Indy 500 legend Paul Page Photo credit: IMS

Indy 500 broadcasting legend Paul Page has enjoyed an illustrious announcing career, but one of his more difficult broadcasts occurred on Sept. 15, 2001.

While Major League Baseball, the NFL, and NASCAR postponed sporting events after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, CART moved forward with its scheduled race the following weekend.

Page, who joined the latest episode of the Awful Announcing Podcast which will be released in its entirety Friday, May 24, was tasked with leading ESPN’s coverage of the race. The only reason Page was even on-site for the race in the days following 9/11 was because he traveled to Europe early to vacation before the event. Still, Page recalled disagreeing with the decision to air the race in the wake of the terrorist attacks, but was ultimately overruled.

“That Saturday, they make the decision that we’re going to go live with the IndyCar race from Dresden and I didn’t think that we ought to,” Page said. “But the network thought that we should. So, I opened with something about 9/11. And I remember specifically that the word ‘tragedy’ was being used a lot and I didn’t see it that way. That was an atrocity. And that’s exactly what I called it when opening the show.”

To help combat the criticism of holding the race so soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, CART changed the name of the race from the German 500 to the American Memorial. During the event, which was the first CART race ever held in Europe, two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi was part of a horrific crash.

“Another race car had literally driven through the side of his car,” Page recalled. “When I saw the crash, I was really worried it was fatal, but then I noticed the safety team…were really working vigorously at the car, which they wouldn’t have done if it were a fatality. We knew something was up there and from seeing the crash, it had to be something horrific.”

Soon after, they put Zanardi in a helicopter to be airlifted to Berlin. But just as the helicopter powered up to leave, it quickly powered down and Page recalled seeing Zanardi get removed from the aircraft.

“He had actually died,” Page said. “And they had to get better space to work on him. They got his heart going again, put him back in the helicopter and out to Berlin…He ended up losing his legs, but not his spirit.”

Zanardi returned to racing less than two years after the accident that resulted in the amputation of both legs, returning to the Lausitzring to finish the final 13 laps of the 2001 race. Zanardi competed in the European Touring Car Championship and World Touring Car Championship and raced in the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Zanardi also won four Paralympic gold medals in hand-cycling, although he is currently recovering from facial and cranial injuries from a 2020 hand-cycling accident.

Listen to Page’s full appearance on the Awful Announcing Podcast Friday, May 24, which includes discussions about being the Voice of the Indianapolis 500, surviving a helicopter crash, calling the Nathan’s Hot Dot Eating Contest, and much more. Subscribe to the Awful Announcing Podcast and to Awful Announcing’s YouTube channel for the latest clips and highlights.

[Awful Announcing Podcast]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to