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View from the Tower -- Economaki Recognized Little 500

By Ken de la Bastide

(October 1, 2012) – 
With the passing of Chris Economaki, considered the dean of American racing journalists, last Friday the sport lost a legend.

Economaki was instrumental in bringing auto racing onto the national sports scene and was one of the first television broadcasters. His weekly “Editor’s Notebook” in the National Speed Sport News, the racer’s “bible” was a most read for competitors and fans.

During his years of reporting on racing, I had several opportunities to meet and talk with Economaki when I was working for the American Speed Association. He was always warm and welcoming.

Economaki always seemed to have a special interest in ASA racing, which was founded at Anderson Speedway by Rex Robbins. He was very familiar with Anderson Speedway and how difficult it is to win here.

A born story teller, Economaki was able to enthrall his listeners as he did in 1996 when he was the keynote speaker at the Little 500 Hall of Fame banquet.

Economaki recognized the importance of the Pay Less Little 500 to the sprint car community.

“Your event long has had an international appeal,” he said back in 1996.

At that time Economaki said that the Little 500 and Anderson Speedway was a spawning grounds for the Indianapolis 500.

During a 2000 interview, Economaki said the significance of the Little 500 has gone up and down over the years. He said Jimmy Clark made a point of attending the Little 500 the night before he won the Indianapolis 500.

He said the Little 500 is unique because it attracts racers from all over the country.

“For a sprint car racer, it’s the biggest race in the country,” Economaki said. “It’s nice that is has survived this long. “

Economaki was around racing for almost eight decades and had a wealth of knowledge about all forms of racing.

No one will be able to fill his shoes. He set a standard that everyone that has followed in his footsteps is trying to equal.

All racing fans, whether they read his column or not, should take a moment and remember Economaki and all he did to help raise auto racing to a national level.