Long-time motorsports commentator and reporter Chris Economaki, who was best known as "The Dean of American Motorsports," died on Friday at the age of 91.
Born on Oct. 20, 1920 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Economaki was regarded as one of the most respected journalists in motorsports. His career began at the age of 13 when he sold copies of the National Speed Sport News. He eventually took over as editor and later bought the publication, turning it into a weekly motorsports publication.
Economaki, who saw his first race in Atlantic City, N.J. at age 9, served as a track announcer during the 1950s. He went on to become a commentator at ABC when the television network began coverage of motorsports on its "Wide World of Sports" show and special telecasts of the Indianapolis 500.
During his tenure at ABC, Economaki covered such prestigious events as the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He covered numerous stock car, sprint car, IndyCar and Formula One events around the world as well.
In 1984, Economaki joined CBS for its telecast of the Daytona 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix as well as the network's coverage of the IROC series. He also served as a contributor for ESPN's coverage of F1 grand prix.
"The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. "Many people consider Chris the greatest motorsports journalist of all time. He was, indeed, 'the Dean.' Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR events and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's popularity. I'll miss seeing him, and of course, I'll miss hearing that voice."
Economaki served an analyst for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network's coverage of the Indy 500 from 1995-2009 and its coverage of each U.S. Grand Prix held at the famed speedway.
"IndyCar and the world of motorsports have lost a true friend with the passing of Chris Economaki," IndyCar officials said in a statement. "The Dean of American motorsports journalists, Chris dedicated most of his life to reporting the sport of auto racing and telling the stories of the heroes of our sport. He was truly one of a kind. We send our thoughts and condolences to his family, friends and colleagues."
Economaki was preceded in death by his wife, Tommye, and is survived by his daughters, Corinne and Tina, and two grandchildren. Funeral arrangements for Economaki are pending.