DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chris Economaki, whose career covering auto racing spanned more than seven decades, is the recipient of the third Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.
Economaki, who passed away Sept. 28, 2012 at 91, was often referred to as the dean of motorsports journalism, having covered the sport from virtually every angle. His career began selling copies of the racing trade paper "National Auto Racing News," earning a nickel for each copy sold. That was, he would later say, good money for a kid during the Depression.
He spent time as a track announcer before finding work in television, eventually becoming a widely recognized figure for his efforts in calling races from the pits for ABC and CBS.
When ABC made the decision to air the 1961 Firecracker 250 from Daytona, one of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.'s stipulations was that Economaki would be a part of the broadcast team.
Economaki eventually purchased "National Auto Racing News," later renamed "National Speed Sport News." He contributed a weekly column to the paper for more than 70 years.
The Squier-Hall Award, overseen by NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, is named in honor of two of the sport's legendary broadcasters, Ken Squier and Barney Hall. Unveiled in May of 2012, with Squier and Hall being the inaugural recipients, the award recognizes the contributions of the media to the success of the sport.
"Chris and I were from different schools I guess, I was country and he was town or city or whatever you'd like to call it," said Hall, who announced that Economaki had won the award. "I learned a lot ? watching him covering the sport like he did.
"You could ask him anything. I don't care if he knew the answer or not, he'd tell you (something)."
NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley said Economaki "had the same impact laying the foundation, for what we're able to do today as the Junior Johnsons, the Richard Pettys and David Pearsons did for today's drivers.
"The thing about Chris," Kelley said, "is he did a little bit of everything. He wasn't just NASCAR, he was motorsports. Certainly, certainly a well-deserving recipient."
Economaki will be honored Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 during the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Other nominees for the award were: Russ Catlin, editor of "Speed Age Magazine"; Shav Glick, motorsports reporter for the "Los Angeles Times" for 37 years; Tom Higgins, motorsports reporter for the "Charlotte Observer" for 34 years; Bob Jenkins, lead NASCAR lap-by-lap anchor for ESPN from 1982-2000; Bob Moore, a motorsports beat writer for the "Daytona Beach News-Journal" and "Charlotte Observer" for over 20 years; Benny Phillips, a motorsports reporter for 48 years at the "High Point (N.C.) Enterprise; and T. Taylor Warren, a photographer who covered every Daytona 500 until his death in 1998.
WHAT: NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014
WHERE: Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center
WHO VOTES: 21 members of Nominating Committee and 33 members of Voting Panel. In addition, one vote is generated by fan input.
WHO WAS CHOSEN: Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts
WHEN THE 2014 INDUCTEES WILL BE INDUCTED: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 (Live television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1)
- Sports & Recreation
- Arts & Entertainment
- Chris Economaki
- NASCAR Hall of Fame