INDIANAPOLIS - Chris Economaki, a legendary journalist known as the dean of American motorsports, has died at the age of 91.
Economaki worked as an editor, publisher and columnist for National Speed Sport News for more than 60 years and served as a reporter and commentator for race broadcasts, including coverage of the Indianapolis 500 for ABC's "Wide World of Sports" and the IMS Radio Network.
"Chris was the dean of motorsports journalism," Jeff Belskus, IMS president and CEO, said in a news release. "His accurate, incisive reporting helped increase the audience of the sport and put the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, its events and competitors into the global spotlight. He set a standard for others to follow for generations and will be deeply missed."
Executives with INDYCAR and NASCAR also mourned Economaki's passing.
"Chris dedicated most of his life to reporting the sport of auto racing and telling the stories of the heroes of our sport. He was truly one of a kind," the INDYCAR statement read.
"The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on both a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life," NASCAR chairman Brian France told ESPN. "Many people consider Chris the greatest motorsports journalist of all time. He was, indeed, 'the Dean.' Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR events, and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's popularity."
Economaki, a New York native, became the editor of National Speed Sport News in 1950 and wrote a column, "The Editor's Notebook," for more than 50 years, ESPN reported.
Prominent drivers also offered their condolences.
"Hopefully in light of the sadness that brings some positive thoughts to something that is sad," Danica Patrick said in a statement.
"Sorry to hear about Chris Economaki passing away today. He was one of a kind!" Michaell Andretti tweeted.
"Motorsport lost one of the great journalist Chris Economaki, RIP and you will be missed around the race track!!!!" Jeff Andretti tweeted.
"Very sorry to hear regarding CHRIS ECONOMAKI RIP!" Helio Castroneves tweeted.
"The racing community lost a family member today with the passing of legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki. He will be missed," Service Central & Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing tweeted.
"So Saddened about Chris Economaki's passing. He chronicled the great careers of all of our racing heroes including AJ's," A.J. Foyt Racing tweeted.
"Sad to hear of the passing of Chris Economaki, Dean of American Motorsports Journalism and a staple in the IMS media center," Ed Carpenter Racing tweeted.
RTV6 Sports Director Dave Furst remembered time spent watching Economaki work.
"Always appreciated Chris Economaki as the last journalist to use a typewriter & the last to correct AJFoyt on nat'l TV," he tweeted.
Economaki died Friday morning. Funeral arrangements were not immediately released.