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#Respect Chris Economaki

September 28, 2012

This week the Grim Reaper’s been extra-active, taking not only Hoosier Tire founder Bob Newton but the Dean of motorsports journalists, Chris Economaki. Chris hasn’t been well for a few years – as befits someone of his advanced age – and hadn’t been to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for several 500-mile races. (I know I shot some pics of him the most recent time he was there but I just can’t seem to find them this morning – sorry)

In fact, someone (and I can’t remember who it was) took over his famous spot at the head of the rows of long tables on the fourth floor of the IMS media center this past May, where the ubiquitous manual typewriter customarily lived, waiting for Chris to complete his Editors Notebook features for each week of National Speed Sport News. I was aghast – I thought that space should always remain empty as long as Chris was alive…

I’ve known Chris since I began performing journalism in this business writing, art-directing, doing circulation and advertising for the IMSA Arrow newsletter in Fairfield, CT. I was working for John and Peg Bishop and had, by that time, been a NSSN reader for well more than 10 years, a habit I didn’t discard until just before the newspaper’s demise a couple of years ago.

It seemed that, no matter where I was working, Chris Economaki was there in those early days. He helped me see things I might have missed, chided me when I didn’t get things right (and he was always correct – even when he wasn’t… ) and made sure I didn’t miss out because of my hearing disability, which he considered a boon. “You don’t need earplugs?” he’d ask in that nasally twang.

We shared a love of red wine and compared notes. Because of his status in the business, he could always afford better wines than I but if it was his nickel, he opted  for the less expensive varietals – but both of us had good enough palates to make wise choices to share.

Many people around the globe have written today about how they respect Chris Economaki over the years for his ultimate proficiencies at the keys of that typewriter, using a microphone or simply gathering with those who wished they were peers. Writers, photographers, drivers, team owners, sanctioning organizations, manufacturers – and most of all – fans have all been touched by Chris’ skills and his love of motor racing.

I think we all owe Chris Economaki a great debt for sharing his love of racing with all of us; he certainly made the sport better, bringing it more prominence in the general sports media and giving everyone an insider’s view through his “Editor’s Notebook” in NSSN that, in my humble opinion, will never, ever be equaled.

The ultimate notice on Economaki’s death comes, of course, from National Speed Sport News: http://www.nationalspeedsportnews.com/more/chris-economaki-dies-at-age-91/.

My sincere condolences to Corinne and Tina – and to all of us that have suffered a great loss with Chris’ death. Ninety-one years is a helluva long time to live on this earth. That Chris Economaki lived his life so fully and so influentially was his great blessing. As we think about him going forward, he’ll never truly be dead in our hearts.

Arrivederci Chris – till we meet again at some celestial wine bar!

By Anne Proffit

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