CENTER LINE - ESPN broadcaster really lives life in fastlane

He's covered the Rubik's Cube World Championships in Budapest. He's covered sumo wrestling. He's covered the America's Cup from a yacht. And Wednesday he'll be in New York City to cover the annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan's Famous New York Coney Island.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

He's covered the Rubik's Cube World Championships in Budapest. He's covered sumo wrestling. He's covered the America's Cup from a yacht.

And Wednesday he'll be in New York City to cover the annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan's Famous New York Coney Island.

Throw all of that in with his regular beat auto racing and it's been a pretty good life for Paul Page.

Page, 61, was in Norwalk over the weekend covering the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Park.

Page took a few moments from his lasagna meal Friday afternoon to talk about the life of a sports broadcaster. In actual terms, it's a job. In reality, Page said it's been a dream come true since he started in 1965.

"It's all fun for me," Page said. "I love motor sports No. 1 the television and the radio. It's been a 30-year con job."

Page has been at it full go for 33 years. His early career was interrupted by a stint in the Army and "I really didn't get back into it until 1973," he said.

"I did a lot of NASCAR in the 1980s. I've done Formula 1 and Indy racing and drag racing."

Page originally is from Evansville, Ind. "I was a military brat so we traveled a lot," he said. "We settled in Indy."

Living in Indy and loving auto racing go hand in hand. And since landing the NHRA gig, he's fallen in love with the straight track. His life, like the race, travels at more than 300 mph.

"It doesn't get much better than this," Page said.

And he loved his first trip to Norwalk.

"Here you have a friendly and excellent facility," he said. "I felt it as soon as I drove in here. You can go to some really big events, but they don't know how to entertain. Formula 1 is like that."

Page and his wife, Sally, have two grown children Brian, 30, and Marlo, 28. His wife worked as Sally Larvick on ESPN and was the first woman on the Indy 500 Radio Network.

He said it was a marriage made in heaven, if not on the starting line.

"She knows exactly what I'm talking about," Page said. "On Monday night we check out the TiVo and see how we did. She's a pretty good critic."

There will be nothing too critical about Wednesday's assignment his sixth straight year covering the hot dog eating championships.

"It's a free trip to New York and a free trip to see the fireworks in New York Harbor," he said with a laugh.

There has been talk that six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi will miss the event because of his recent jaw ailment, but the champ dismissed that speculation Friday. Some speculated it was a ploy against his main rival, American Joey Chestnut.

Chestnut gained the hot record five weeks ago, eating 59 1/2 dogs to Kobayashi's 53 3/4.

Kobayashi said last week that misaligned wisdom teeth and his voracious competitive eating career led to painful arthritis in his jaw.

Page said he doesn't know if the champ will compete, but he said it is time for a change.

"I want the belt back in America," he said.

It's been that kind of life. While the motorsports have paid most of the bills, it's been the other things that keep it interesting.

When the phone rings, Page just listens.

"When they say, 'Boy, I've got an assignment for you ...'"