Hello, I’m Paul Page: “It’s Race Day in Indianapolis”

by Paul Page & J.R. Elrod

Take Two

No sooner did we originally post this review in 2021 that the book was pulled by the publisher for no explained reason. Then it reappeared, issued by a different publisher and in a different format. We compared the two; scroll to the bottom of the original review.

Titling his book with his signature opening words of each and every radio or television broadcast, now so familiar to race fans, Paul Page shares his life’s story with readers. As he phrases it “now semi-retired . . . having removed my headphones” after 60 years, Page decided it was time to put some of his memories on paper.       

He calls his book a memoir but it feels and reads more like an autobiography for he writes of every aspect of his life including his upbringing, his parents and other relatives, his youth including when and how he first became fascinated with racing. He relates experiences as a National Guardsman that included graduating with honors from the Department of Defense’s Defense Information School (Dinfos) at Fort Benjamin Harrison and where he would instruct and then guest lecture for years afterward. (This base was closed in 1991 and the property has now been redeveloped as a multi-use community now known as The Fort.) 

Page also writes of training and working as a licensed paramedic, and of his marriage to fellow broadcaster Sally Larvick, his son Brian and daughter Marlo (who, he writes revealingly, they named after Danny Thomas’ daughter in honor of her being a “feminist icon”). And he describes surviving the helicopter he was riding in falling out of the sky. Lady Luck had indeed been with him for one of his legs had been so badly broken in the crash that it was feared he might never walk again until one of the doctors called in Indianapolis’ top orthopedics Drs. Bob Brueckman and Terry Trammel. 

Page didn’t just announce races for he’d been to driving school to “find out,” as he writes, “if I really had the chops” for racing. He did as he subsequently earned his SCCA racing, as well as his FIA B and USAC stock car, licenses and campaigned his own Lotus 51 throughout the Midwest.

There is an abundance of racing history and stories featuring many  racing luminaries. However, here a word of warning is in order. While there is a two-page bibliography, no one insisted on the book being indexed so if there are events you’ll want to revisit or stories of specific people you’ll want to find again, best make notes as you read of the page numbers.

There is one interesting appendix. It’s a list (in mouse type) of the just shy of the 50 series or events which Page broadcast over the decades and includes the location of each. Some of them are decidedly quirky such as Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island or a Rubics [sic] Cube Championship in Budapest.

The manner in which the book and Page’s story is presented he credits to his co-author J.R. Elrod, who is not in any way a part of the racing community but rather an attorney. In his preface Page writes that Elrod “brought a vision for this book that pushed beyond a collection of anecdotes and toward an earnest first-hand account . . . across the decades.” He goes on to say, “So there are really two voices here, history and a view inside the sport over 60 years.” 

The writing is conversational in style rendering the book a fast-paced attention-holding read. Hello, I’m Paul Page is a book whose pages you’ll return to for the pleasure of the read as well as for the information and history it contains.

Take Two

Examining the new version was a welcome opportunity to be reminded just how open and revealingly Paul Page had shared his story—the good, the less good, and even the embarrassing. 

Why the book had been removed from the market or what happened to any unsold stock remains a mystery (the publisher is still in business, and still carries other transportation titles). No reason was offered and direct questions were not responded to. The new publisher, Octane Press, has in recent times picked up several titles that had been dropped by others. 

Comparing both versions page by page and nearly word for word, here’s what we find: despite the additional pages, they are essentially the same in terms of contents but the layout and font size is different. Front and back covers are exactly alike; inside the images are the same except the old hardbound had presented them in color and b/w whereas the new softcover has reproduced all only in black and white.

The vast majority of changes are simply differences in editorial style. One spells Foyt’s name AJ, the other A. J. One prefers race car, the other racecar. One prints it as Lap 58, the other lap fifty-eight. Yet, both still manage to misspell Rodger Ward’s name as Roger.

The most substantive changes from hardcover to soft are the Acknowledgments pages. Some individuals thanked in the original version are no longer part of those named in the softcover, while others have been added. And one apparently factual change was made in the third chapter, changing a woman’s first name from Paula to Gertrude.

If you missed your chance to acquire a copy of the original version here’s your chance to obtain essentially the same book, and for a few dollars less. (hvh)

[2nd edition]
Hello, I’m Paul Page
“It’s Race Day in Indianapolis”
by Paul Page & J.R. Elrod
Octane Press, 2022
318 pages, 29 b/w images, softcover
bibliography, appendix, no index  
List Price: $22.95
ISBN 13: 978 1 64234 164 5


[1st edition]
Hello, I’m Paul Page
“It’s Race Day in Indianapolis”
by Paul Page & J.R. Elrod
Blue River Press, 2021
301 pages, 5 b/w & 24 color images, hardcover
bibliography and appendix but no index
List Price: $26.99 
ISBN 13: 978 1 68157 215 4

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