Paul Page is also a word butcher

Posted by Iannucci | 11/19/2008 | 5 comments »
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I’m old enough to have caught a few of the Sid Collins years, but the voice most prominent in my recollection of Sunday mornings in May by the radio is that of Paul Page. His excitement level goes to 11 and he sometimes shouts like the house is on fire, but on radio that always played well, and even on TV there were plenty of folks who enjoyed years of work Page did at Indy and elsewhere.

Recently some folks have lamented how the names associated with the new Versus (VS) IndyCar broadcast team have not included Page, even mentioning how they “emailed Page”. Now, it’s always a treat here in the 21st century to just fire off a missive and have it come back to the Inbox with a personal reply, but I was intrigued at the prospect of exchanging pleasantries with Paul Page. I mean, he may be announcing dragster races and competitive eating, but he’s still Paul Page.

And glory of glories, not only did I find his email but an actual blog at www.PaulPage.tv. Sweet fancy moses, Paul Page is a word butcher just like me! After taking a moment to add him to the sidebar, I too sent an email asking him about the VS gig. I won’t quote him directly, but I will say he not only confirmed the same names being auditioned like Davey Hamilton, Mike King, Jack Arute, and Jon Beekhuis, but he also said he was told they were only interested in folks who were young, fresh, and vibrant.

Aside from the fact that those adjectives sound more like a Gordon Ramsay menu than a broadcast team, I think anyone with two eyes can confirm that Jack Arute is not young, and he hasn’t been for at least 86 years. But what’s more troubling is that if this is indeed the dictate then there’s zero chance of Derek Daly appearing in the booth, because for all of his faults he’s a lot more interesting as a commentator than Scott Goodyear.

Then again it’s entirely possible someone was giving an excuse to Page along the lines of “you suck for siding with CART a dozen years ago”, although that would purely be conjecture on my part. That could go for Daly as well, I suppose.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the entire list, because it’s not very encouraging to see that there isn’t anyone else out there who might be on the VS radar. Mike King is great on radio, but I don’t know how he’d do on TV where the requirements involve less description and even less shouting. Arute has been in the booth before and from what I recall it didn’t work. His brilliance has been best served in smaller portions. Beekhuis is solid, but I’ve never come away from watching races thinking of a memorable quote of his. Maybe Davey Hamilton will prove an inspirational choice, although he’s so calm I think he’d need to be paired with a total loon to avoid sounding like Goodyear.

I’m not going to criticize the performance of these possible candidates before they’re actually on VS, but in case anyone from the new network is reading right now I’d like to make two suggestions to those responsible for this decision. First, under no circumstances should Todd Harris be allowed on an IndyCar broadcast. Once more, with emphasis: under no circumstances should Todd Harris be allowed on an IndyCar broadcast. He’s already at VS doing cage fighting, and good for him but but please please PLEASE resist the urge to use this available “talent”. I mean it – do not let him within 5 miles of Danica Patrick ever again. 2005 was embarrassing, and we’re only now scrubbing our memories of that horrible season.

More importantly though, I’d like to offer the novel suggestion of finding someone who has recently driven in the IRL to play some part of the broadcast team. If there’s one thing the IRL has recently had in plentiful supply it’s personalities, and surely one of them can be persuaded to jump up in the booth. The ever animated Darren Manning – who is currently without a ride – is the first name that comes to mind. Also young James Davison, who struggled a bit in the Indy Lights but performed well enough to garner attention for his work at Surfer’s Paradise. PJ Chesson might be worth a shot. Also Paul Tracy, or either of the Lazier brothers, or heck, as improbable as it seems even Helio Castroneves might have some free time.

The point is that often IndyCar drivers often end their careers by going off into another slower racing series and then fade into oblivion. Davey Hamilton may be the exception, but his is a rather unique story. The point being with so many unemployed drivers standing around it would be a total waste of resources to not find at least one of them who has some on-air talent and the ambition to show it. Hopefully the VS folks can find someone to chat us up who has the benefit of experience of racing on the current tracks and/or driving the current car.

And whoever it is, I hope they don’t mind having a blog as well.

5 comments

  1. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // November 19, 2008 10:46 PM  

    Seriously. I don't even want to read this post. Because the title alone is hilarous and I don't want to mess with perfection.

  2. The Duke // November 19, 2008 11:59 PM  

    As you may know I have nothing booked for 09, I'm also young,for the most part, fres (who the hell has ever heard of me) and vibrent? Oh their ratings could be as high as their FCC fines with me on the mic. That is is anyone can find the Versus Network! :D

    IS IT?? NO!! IT CAN'T BE!! THAT'S SAM HORNISH'S MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Pablo // November 20, 2008 11:59 AM  

    Your idea of using a recent IRL driver as a commentator is actually a great idea. Speaking of cage fighting, that's where I've seen that before. The UFC is known to pull in current and former fighters as color commentators, much to the benefit of the fans. As long as they can find a former driver possessing sufficent personality and eloquence, they can give us a broadcast team capable of providing fans with an inside view from the driver's perspective. That additional insight will ultimately provide for a richer experience and better educated fan base. I really don't see any downside to this at all.

  4. GurneyEagle // November 21, 2008 7:29 AM  

    Did Page "side with CART" on his own or was he just assigned there by ESPN?

  5. jack // May 16, 2009 3:11 AM  

    he sided with cart because he knew during the 1st indy 500 in the indy racing league what a joke it was going to become, remember, no one knew about the lazier brothers (buddt ran in a menard in 95 500), or sam hornish jr, so why do you think he sided with cart?, he tottaly thought that tony george was too stuck up his own arse (he still is ) to realise how successful the ppg wrold series was 1992 to 1995