Tribute to a racing icon; denouncing a racing farce

Posted: October 10, 2012 in Racing

Chris Economaki passed away.  I know I’m slow in mentioning this as it happened almost two weeks ago, but I knew I needed to join the ever growing stack of tributes for the greatest, most influential journalist the sport of racing has ever known; the greatest it will ever know.  In absolutely no way can you begin to tabulate how many lives Mr. Economaki impacted (tens of thousands would be a safe bet) or how many race tracks and series he helped to grow (easily in the thousands).  He was the one man who you wanted to know your name.  If you saw your name in print and he was the one who put it there, you knew you were legitimate within the sport.

From the time he started his involvement at the age of 13 up until the time of his death at the age of 91, he always stayed true to his beliefs and ideals about the sport.  As so many aspiring journalists and media members these days sell themselves out, Chris never did; never caved to the pressures of what the higher powers at be would prefer to see him write.  He wrote what he wanted to, he wrote it how he wanted to and he defended, promoted and denounced who he wanted to.  Whether you were a weekend warrior who only raced locally a few Saturday nights out of the year or if you were one of the world’s elite racers touring the world, you hung onto and cherished every word he wrote or said.

Given what he did for the sport I can say that I honestly believe I would never have had a job writing in racing if not for Chris Economaki.  One of our most important voices is silenced.  Easily our most important pen has run dry.

There’s only one thing that every member of the racing family can say: thank you Mr. Economaki.


There’s no secret what my true feelings about NASCAR are.  I think it’s a joke of a racing organization that epitomizes the corruption of politics and money in sports.  If the corporation cared more about the racing than padding their back pocket then maybe they wouldn’t be pissing people off every time their cars take to the track.  Whether it be fans, owners, drivers or sponsors it seems that each weekend there’s someone who feels betrayed after the last checkered flag flies.  This past weekend was no different.

I do not watch the Cup series but it is the NFL of racing here in the states.  It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing it is only a matter of time before you overhear or see information and results regarding the races.  That was no different on Sunday evening when I flipped on Sports Center and saw the footage of the last lap crash at Talladega.  My first reaction: turn the channel because I don’t give enough of a damn to give the series even 45-seconds of my time.  So, that’s what I did but not before I saw the smoke starting to billow and Tony Stewart’s car begin going airborne.  No, I don’t know how it all ended but I saw all I needed to know that NASCAR had struck again.

In a post I made last year about this same time I called out the organization for scripting and manufacturing the outcome of their championship.  Restrictor plate racing – what Talladega and Daytona are – is the same exact concept just on a smaller scale.  Instead of playing out over the course of months as the title script does, these races play out over just a few hours.  The racing at these two tracks is nothing more than made for TV cheapened sport.  NASCAR wants the big packs of cars which lead to the big wrecks, plain and simple.  Why do they want that?  Because the supposed “racing fans” who tune in to watch plate races only want to see “The Big One” – more viewers on TV lead to more people wanting to put their butts in the seats which leads to more bottom line dollars for the company.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has now retracted his post-race comments from Sunday in which he referred to restrictor plate racing as “blood thirsty” and if every race were like that he’d find another job.  I for one full on applaud him for saying what he did; I am discouraged to hear that he apologized.  The only way this will get fixed is if more drivers had the pair of attachments necessary to make these comments and then stand behind them.  All of the drivers hate it, but none have what it takes to speak up as an individual because they are scared of NASCAR.  That makes it even more important for the guys in the garage who strap on the helmets to band together and become one voice.  No, there is not a drivers union but that doesn’t mean they can’t act like there’s one.

Good job, NASCAR.  You once again managed to manufacture a disgusting spectacle that resulted in millions of dollars lost to the teams in wrecked racecars and put dozens of lives in jeopardy all for your own personal satisfaction.  I understand that it’s all about trying to make as much money as is necessary to sustain a business, but there comes a time where you have to draw a line – a fine line – between a hard earned dollar and what you are putting it on the verge of becoming.

Blood money will not benefit anyone, not even you.


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