Growing up, I knew car racing was on the TV by the sound of the voice coming out of our family room. If it was Chris Economaki, it was time to watch television. Racing was on.
I didn't experience National Speed Sport News until I started at PRI 22 years ago. One of the first directives to me upon getting hired was, "Read Chris Economaki's column every week." And that was a directive I passed along to every editor or salesperson ever hired by PRI in my time here. Chris told it like it was. There was one place to find the news in motorsports with no spin attached.
Chris' prose reminded me of some of the great newspaper columnists I had come to admire, from the LA Times' Jim Murray to Chicago's Mike Royko. They were all of the people. But they were smart as hell. And it seemed like there was constant fun in their lives. Their copy was incredibly readable, while also being more instructive about the true nature of things than just about any other source of information. Chris belongs right there with the best of the best. We are losing these figures in our media, and they're not being replaced.
I'm saddened by the news of his passing. However, as I've gotten older, I find myself feeling better at funerals as I consider some of the great lives people I've known have lived. In all the people I've ever come across in this world, Chris Economaki is one of the few who wrung every ounce of potential out of this life.
Speaking for the PRI team, we are most grateful for the enormous role Chris Economaki played in making the sport of auto racing so popular. We have certainly benefitted.
And we are most grateful for the zest he brought to us in his writing and in his being.