(RIDGEWOOD, N.J. - September 28, 2012) - Chris Economaki, whose National Speed Sport News was among the first publications to cover MARC - and later, ARCA - has died at age 91.
Economaki began selling single copies of National Speed Sport News at age 14 and eventually became the publication's editor, a position he held for 60 years. He died early this morning.
ARCA president and CEO Ron Drager issued a statement.
"Chris Economaki, in addition to being universally respected and recognized as the Dean of Motorsports Journalism, was vitally instrumental in establishing and reinforcing ARCA's credibility by virtue of his coverage of our series," Drager said. "National Speed Sport News was there for our inaugural MARC race at Dayton Speedway on May 10, 1953, and every newsworthy event thereafter, playing a significant role in our growth and success as a racing company over these past 60 years.
"All of us in the ARCA community express our appreciation for Chris and his dedication to the racing industry. We send our best wishes to his family and his extended National Speed Sport News family at this time."
Economaki's column, the Editor's Notebook, was the most read feature in National Speed Sport News for six decades, and while Economaki's contribution has been minimal in recent years, the Notebook, as it is called by readers, continues to be the most meaningful read in the newspaper, which debuted in 1934 when Economaki was 13 years old.
Economaki was also well known for his unique, recognizable voice, which he used first as a track announcer and later through nearly 40 years on television.
He worked with ABC's Wide World of Sports, he was with CBS and ESPN, and it can be said he was one of the catalysts in bringing racing to television. It is not an oversimplification to say he knew racing and knew how to speak about it.
Economaki's full obituary from nationalspeedsportnews.com is available here.
Photos: Economaki with ARCA co-founder John Marcum at Daytona International Speedway in 1972 (top); Economaki with Drager at the Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club banquet in 2007 (right); a 1955 MARC headline from National Speed Sport News, covering races from Canfield, Ohio and Heidelberg, Pa., won by Russ Hepler and Ernie Derr, respectively (bottom).