‘A TRIBUTE TO CHRIS ECONOMAKI’ at IMRRC JUNE 15
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 10, 2013) – The achievements of Chris Economaki, the late dean of American motorsports, will be celebrated on Saturday, June 15, at the International Motor Racing Research Center.
The free talk, part of the on-going Center Conversations speaker series, will be at 1 p.m. at the Center located at 610 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, N.Y. It is open to all.
“A Tribute to Chris Economaki” will be led by a panel composed of Corinne Economaki, Chris’ daughter and motorsports insider; Leo Levine, retired automotive industry executive and author; and Judy Stropus, noted motorsports publicist.
“Chris Economaki’s accomplishments are with us every day at the Center. We consistently use his National Speed Sport News archives to answer research requests or for our own work,” Racing Research Center President J.C. Argetsinger said. “To pay tribute to this great journalist is a natural for the Center, and to have his daughter and colleagues presenting his story is a great honor for us and our supporters.”
Economaki’s 70-year career in motorsports spanned print reporting, track announcing, television commentating and book authorship. He wrote his popular National Speed Sports News weekly column, “The Editor’s Notebook,” for 60 of those years. Economaki died in September 2012 at the age of 91.
After nearly 77 years of continuous publication, NSSN issued its final print edition in March 2011.
The NSSN archives were donated to the Racing Research Center in August 2011, with funding from the Dyson Foundation. The archives comprise 97 bound volumes of issues going back to the 1930s; 30 boxes of photographs back to the 1950s; and negatives of decades of racing photographs taken by Economaki. Additionally, the NSSN archives include issues from the 1930s through the early 2000s on microfilm.
At the time of the donation, Corinne Economaki said the archives represented her father’s lifetime of work and “love affair with motorsports.”
Corinne Economaki will talk about that love affair, bolstered by remarks from Leo Levine and Judy Stropus.
Corinne Economaki’s own involvement with motorsports, “much to the dismay of my mother,” she said, began before she was born. At the time, Chris was earning extra money by track announcing and the whole family went to those Friday and Saturday night events. Her childhood included visiting racetracks all over the Eastern seaboard, and into her teens stretched to the Bahamas, Mexico, Holland and France.
After college and a stint in marketing and in the restaurant business, she joined her father at NSSN in 1985. She was promoted to publisher in 1991, and oversaw the move of the company from Ridgewood, N.J., to Harrisburg, N.C., in 1997. Since the paper ceased publication she has served as executive director of the North Carolina Motorsports Association, a non-profit member organization that promotes the industry in the state.
Corinne’s memories include being taught to drive in a rented Triumph Spitfire on the track at Nassau; she was 12. Her other driving lessons included driving backward around the block. Her pre-driver’s license regimen included changing a tire and draining the radiator and changing the oil, all things her father thought she should know before driving, she recalled.
Levine is currently a contract writer for The New York Times and author of the two-volume “Ford: The Dust and the Glory.” The first volume was published in 1968 and the second in 2001 in time for Ford’s 100th anniversary of racing.
His writing career began in high school and continued with The Stars and Stripes military newspaper in Europe, where he also got involved in motorsports. His competitive career also included races, rallies and hill climbs. This included driving for the Porsche factory in the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers in 1959. He also drove for BMW in the first six-hour race at the Ring and was with the NSU Prinz factory team in the 5,000-kilometer Argentine Gran Premio Standard.
Levine was with the New York Herald Tribune after he returned from Europe and was also a contributing editor for Motor Trend. He joined Mercedes-Benz of North America in 1969 as director and was later general manager of public relations and retired in 1991.
He was senior vice president of World Cup in 1994, a contributing editor for Road & Track and other magazines, a consultant to the chairman of Compaq Computer and president of the Westchester Golf Association. He was also the editor of “Tales from the Lesson Tee” by John Kennedy, PGA national award winner for education, and is now editing another golf book.
Stropus is best known as a professional timer/scorer in the early days of the sport. She has worked with top teams such as Penske Racing, Bud Moore Racing, Porsche, BMW and American Motors, while at the same time operating her own public relations firm, JVS Enterprises, representing major clients such as Chevrolet and BMW.
She was awarded the 2008 Jim Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association and is a member of the Road Racing Drivers Club, the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society and the Public Relations Society of America. She is an author/journalist and has raced a Chevy Monza, Porsche 914, Maserati Bi-Turbo and a VW in SCCA competition, as well as a Frazer-Nash, Porsche 914 and a 1954 OSCA Maserati in vintage competition.
Stropus just completed the California Mille in her 1952 Lancia Ardea. She is the Racing Research Center’s public relations consultant.
The popular Center Conversations program has long been a cornerstone of the Racing Research Center’s educational outreach and oral history initiative. Noted authors, race historians, drivers, team owners and track officials have taken listeners behind the scenes of every race series over the years. Speakers have included Donald Davidson, historian at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Doug Nye, writer and historian; Karl Ludvigsen, automotive industry insider; David Donohue, racer and son of famed driver Mark Donohue; Bobby Rahal, driver and team owner; and the late John Fitch and Bill Milliken, both legendary figures in road racing.
The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports, of all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials.
For more information about the Center’s work and its programs, visit www.racingarchives.org or call (607) 535-9044.
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CUTLINE: Chris Economaki interviews Roger Penske, winner of the Nassau Trophy race on Dec. 6, 1964, as teammate Hap Sharp looks on. Penske took over Sharp’s car after his own mount failed early in the race. Penske scored a hat trick during the 1964 Nassau Speed Week by also winning the Tourist Trophy race and The Governor’s Trophy. (photo from the Center’s National Speed Sport News Collection)