Page was immediately thrust in the position to take over for Collins and it was already the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
His debut as Collins’ replacement, however, came in perhaps the most historic Month of May in Indy 500 history as three things changed the race forever. Tom Sneva became the first driver to top the 200 mph mark in qualifications; Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to make 33-driver starting lineup and A.J. Foyt became the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
“If you are going to be given that opportunity and screw it up you ought not to be there,” Page recalled of his first Indy 500 as the “Voice.”
“It was really hard in one way because it had only been three weeks since Sid died and the whole team was depressed but that race gave us something to get ahold of and do something remarkable with to tribute Sid,” Page continued. “The historical circumstances did that for us. Who would have ever guessed any of those things would have come true?
“Everything about it turned out to be a perfect race.”
Indy 500 fans quickly took to Page’s dramatic voice and delivery. Page would make some of the most famous calls in the history of the race including Gordon Johncock’s dramatic duel with Rick Mears in the 1982 Indianapolis 500 – at that time was the closest finish in the history of the race.
The Indianapolis Radio Network showcased the big names of sports announcers from around the state of Indiana – a homegrown collection of talent.
“It was quite an honor,” Page said. “It was very prestigious to become part of that. Sid told me they didn’t choose announcers for their status in the community and didn’t necessarily choose sports announcers. What they did choose were announcers with tremendous reportorial skills and an absolute passion for the Indianapolis 500.”
Page was quite comfortable as the “Voice of the Indianapolis 500” and also working as a sports broadcaster for NBC Sports calling CART races for “Sports World” and also a play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the National Football League.
He would remain in that role until 1988 when ABC offered him the lead position for its telecast of the Indianapolis 500 as well as other CART races on the network.
“Going to ABC was at the request of the best interests of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Page said. “It was very significant to me that after I joined in 1988 and 1989 we won the Emmy for Best Sports Special. I was very proud of that.”