July 4, 1961: Greek-American, Chris Economaki, announces the running of the Firecracker 250 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway for ABC Sports.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1920, Christopher “Chris” Constantine Economaki, was enthralled with car racing from the age of nine. Chris’ father was Greek, and his mother was the great-niece of CSA General Robert E. Lee. At age thirteen, he began his auto racing journalism career by selling copies of the National Auto Racing News. He wrote the News’ column, Editor’s Notebook, for fifty years. During the 1940s and 1950s, he was a track announcer, but he is credited with introducing auto racing to millions of Americans as an expert TV commentator.
On July 4, 2961, he announced the running of the Firecracker 250 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway for ABC Sports (after twenty-three years, he switched to CBS). He also announced many other motorsports for ABC Wide World of Sports, which included the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula One Grand Prix, East African Safari, Australian Bathurst 100, Daytona 500, and Indianapolis 500. He was a color commentator from 1995 until 2008 as part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network coverage of the Indianapolis 500.
Economaki appeared in two films, “Stroker Ace” and “Six Pack,” playing the role of a pit reporter. He received numerous awards, and he was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994. Economaki died at the age of 91 in New Jersey.