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And Now, to Our Man in the Pits, Chris Economaki...

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#1 Don Capps

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 00:28

Two wonderful episodes in the pits between two of Life's Best People, Chris Economaki and Bob Grossman on Wide World of Sports:

No. 1 -- Le Mans:
Chris: "Bob Grossman, how is it going out there at Le Mans this years?

Bob: "It has been rougher than usual this year, Chris. I can't seem to find my masseur."

Chris, turning toward the camera: "Bob Grossman, roughing it at Le Mans."

No. 2 -- Daytona:

Chris: "Bob Grossman, how is it out there at Daytona this year?"

Bob: "It's been a rough six hours, Chris. I forgot to bring my driving shoes and I've had to go the whole distance distance in my Gucci loafers."

And that is why I think so highly of both Chris Economaki and Bob Grossman..... :lol:


#2 Psychoman

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 01:56

:lol: great stuff there
Not quite as up there in the broadcasting ranks, but just as funny, something I witnessed on the pre-race for the Sebring 12-hour a couple years back. They got off a commercial break and showed a turtle crawling on the Sebring runway...

Sam Posey: From the Speedvision archives, never-before-seen footage of David Hobbs at top speed on the start-finish straight...


#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 11:32

A couple of Economaki stories from Graham Hill's autobiography:

On the grid at East London before the showdown finale to the 1962 WDC an excited Economaki came bounding up, crew in tow -

CE: Well, Graham, what is it that bothers you on a day like this?
GH: Well, Chris, it's people like you coming up and asking me questions like that ...

On the grid at Riverside, before a sports car race (heard right round the track as CE was doing circuit commentary) -

CE: Now, Graham, what's significant about the straight here?
GH: Well, it's significant insofar as it joins one corner with the next ...

:lol: :lol:

#4 calissa

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 17:06

Do you know some more stories , vitesse2 ?

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 17:12

Originally posted by calissa
Do you know some more stories , vitesse2 ?

Well yes, but not about Economaki ....!:p :p

#6 Chris Skepis

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 18:30

How about some Murray Walker stories ?
Murray is one billion times better, much more interesting and funnier than Chris Economaki.
Watching races broadcast from American tv is really boring. Only when the comentators are Derek Daly and the amazing David Hobbs it gets better. American comentators have the annoying habbit of talk one over the other and it gets impossible to understand them. I rather turn off the sound when it's Bob Varsha and Boby Unser on the mic. ( I don't know if they are still on since I can't get ESPN and ABC anymore).
Hats of to Murray Walker- The all time best comentator of the planet. ( I really miss James Hunt with him).

#7 Allen Brown

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 20:45

How old is Economaki?

Is it true he founded NSSN in 1895 and the first issue included his report on the Paris to Bordeaux race?


#8 fines

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 20:53


Economaki seems indeed to have been around for quite some time!

#9 rmhorton

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 20:58

I am sure that someone on this forum will know his exact age, but I believe he is around 80 years old.

Roger Horton

#10 david_martin

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 21:14

Roger, you are spot on. Born 20th of October, 1920. I recall listening to that conversation between yourself and Chris Economaki on an internet broadcast of the Indy Radio channel. Chris is certainly a marvel. I remember him as a regular visit to the annual 1000km Bathurst Touring Car race during the 1970's and 1980's too.

#11 rdrcr

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 21:21

Chris Economaki is 80. He still goes to work everyday at NSSN.

I've had a chance to speak with him on a couple of occasions...

But one special instance, was at the Montreal GP. I was with some pals, one of which was the '90 Atlantic champ J.O. Cunningham, anyway, we were going back to the hotel... and we picked up Mr. Economaki, hitchhiking at the bridge that goes over to the Island. We stopped, and gave him a ride to his hotel. He knew Jocko by name recognition, pretty impressive seeing how much he had to pay attention to at the time... He rewarded us with stories and anecdotes from his many years covering motorsports.

It was truly an honor to be in his presents.

#12 Don Capps

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 23:44

Chris Economaki is simply a wonder. That is about all I can say. At times in the 60's and 70's he seemed to be everywhere -- at once. His span of knowledge is simply staggering -- sprints, Big Cars, Champ Cars, midgets, GP, F1, FA -- Formula A and Formula Atlantic, and so and on. And despite some health problems and the recent death of his wife, Chris still keeps going and is very much involved in everything it seems.

His daughter Connie is the current publisher of NSSN. I will admit that I never dreamed that NSSN would ever leave New Jersey, but it did. I'm finally in New Jersey and now NSSN is in North Carolina!!!! However, it is just on he other side of Charlotte from where my daughter lives, so perhaps I will make it a point to see her soon.... :)

Seriously, Chris is a true Scribe and I think that it is appropriate that we keep him in our thoughts and consider the great body of work that he has produced over the years. Actually, Allen, it was 1886 and the first American race was in -- what 1895 or 1896? Anyhow, NSSN managed to cover it.... :lol:

#13 rdrcr

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 01:24

Right you are Don... When I was a very young lad, I used to listen to him broadcast on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The telecasts were in Black & White... And Chris could be found everywhere. Indy, Riverside, Ascot Park, Darlington, Daytona... Covering events for Stock Cars, Drag Racing, Sprinters, Grand Prix Racing, Ovals everything... If there was ever a guy in Racing Journalism who has "been there, done that". He'd be the guy.

I can hear his distinguishable and indelible voice as if he was speaking now... and he still has personality by the mile. When this guy looked you in the eye and told you something... you knew he was telling the truth...

He was recently (a couple years ago now?) inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. This was another crowning achievement to his illustrious career.

I found this article from that time and thought it would be good if I gave everyone a bit of history behind the man.

Chris Economaki's induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America caps a long list of prestigious honors over the years received by this "Dean of Motorsports Journalists," and his election is especially significant since it marks the first time a journalist has been so honored.

Born Christopher Constantine Economaki in Brooklyn, New York, on October 15, 1920, Chris has been involved in racing most of his life. Today he is probably the best recognized and most respected journalist in the world of motorsports, a reputation he earned as editor and publisher of National Speed Sport News and as an award winning television commentator. He doesn't consider himself controversial but he is usually around when a story breaks -- if not before -- and is always ready, willing and able to tell the truth, whether in private conversation or on the air in front of millions of viewers. His weekly column is one of the most informative and widely-read works anywhere in motorsports journalism.

Chris saw his first race at the old Atlantic City board track when he was nine years old, and was hooked for life. By the time he was 14, he was a fixture in the racing world, hanging around the race tracks and racing's Gasoline Alley in Patterson, N.J. He knew all the cars and drivers by sight, and when the Bergen Herald daily newspaper began publishing a racing section, he sold papers in the grandstands. Later, when the National Racing News came to light as a spin-off from the Herald's racing coverage, he began writing his first by-line columns.

In the 1950's, Economaki took over as editor and later bought National Speed Sport News, and turned it into the most influential weekly motorsports publication in the country, due largely to the highly informative column he writes every week. As a respected reporter, his sources are virtually boundless, and he enjoys first-name friendships within the entire automotive and racing world.

Though a near-fanatic race fan, Chris never had the desire to drive competitively. He once drove a midget on a dirt track in Pennsylvania but "It wasn't for me," he said, "It was really a frightening experience."

In addition to his journalistic talent, Chris was one of the most popular track announcers in the 1950s, bringing his own brand of infectious enthusiasm, with a sprinkle of humor, to the job. The fans loved it, and his style soon caught the eye of ABC Television executives when the network began major coverage of motorsports on its Wide World of Sports Show and special telecasts of the Indianapolis 500.

During his tenure with ABC, he covered the world's major auto racing events including the Grand Prix races in Europe, the LeMans 24-Hour Grand Prix of Endurance, the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and every kind of race from Indy Cars to sprint cars, stock cars, Can-Am and drag races.

In 1984 Chris joined CBS and worked on the live telecast of the Daytona 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix as well as the network's coverage of the IROC series. He also was a weekly contributor to ESPN's live coverage of the Formula 1 series, an honor he considers to be a real feather in his cap.

Over the years, Chris has been the recipient of many awards, including the Patrick Jacquemart, Ray Marquette, Dave Fritzlen, Tom Marchese and Ken Purdy Awards for his work. He also received NASCAR's Award of Excellence which was presented to him by Bill France Jr. at the 1990 Awards Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

The son of a Greek father and a mother who was a great-niece of Robert E. Lee, Chris makes his home in Ridgewood, N.J. where he grew up and married his wife, Tommye. They have two daughters, Christine and Corinne.

He has now relocated to Charlotte N.C. as the NSSN Offices have relocated like you say... I'm curious if a book has ever been published of his stories, interviews and quotes?

I did find this story from Pete Biro

"OK you guys... here's MY FIRE STORY. Luckily it was outdoors...

...At the Indy 500...announcer Chris Economaki was doing a demo on the different way Gas and Alcohol burn. Alky is used in the (Indy) race cars NOT GAS. I had just taken a camera to the mobile repair shop and only the lens needed fixin' - so I had a camera around my neck WITH NO LENS. Other announcer Jackie Stewart saw me and said "Come over here and lets watch Chris tape a feature" so we stood there watching. To demonstrate, he had two pie tins on the ground. One filled with Alky, other with Gasoline. He tossed a match into the alcohol (NO VISIBLE FLAME) saying how it burned without visible flame. He then turned and threw a match into the gasoline. It burned with huge red flame and black smoke. Suddenly Chris was hopping up and down like crazy. Jackie, a former driver KNEW what was up, saw someones jacket laying on a golf cart, grabbed it and dove for Chris wrapping the jacket around his ankles. By then Chris had (YES THE MIKE WIRE CAUGHT THE PAN AND SPILLED THE BURNING ALCOHOL ON HIS PANTS LEGS) unzipped and dropped his pants trying to get them off!

Here the VISUAL, a guy standing there with his pants down and another guy Kneeling in front of him!

Guess who's camera didn't have a lens on it? Even worse, it was a rehearsal and the ABC TV crew HAD NOT TAPED IT! Luckily he was barely singed (thanks to Jackie). We still laugh about it today."