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Leigh Diffey

Leigh Diffey (born 3 March 1971 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) is an Australian American auto racing commentator. His career began calling motorcycle races in his home country before moving to the United Kingdom to cover other forms of motorsport. Diffey then moved to the United States to join Speed Channel, while simultaneously working for Network Ten in Australia. Since 2013, he has served as a play-by-play announcer and studio host with NBC Sports in the US.

Leigh Diffey
Born (1971-03-03) 3 March 1971 (age 47)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Nationality Australian
Citizenship United States of America
Occupation American sports commentator
Years active 1995–present
Employer NBC

Contents

Early career: Network Ten and BBCEdit

Diffey grew up in Queensland, Australia where he briefly raced motorcycles with his friend Daryl Beattie, who eventually became a professional motorcycle racer.[1] Diffey, meanwhile, pursued a career in motorsports broadcasting; his first job came in 1990 at the age of 19, calling Ipswich Motorcycle Club racing at Tivoli Raceway. Diffey also worked as a physical education teacher[2] at Ipswich Grammar School;[3] he left in 1995 to pursue a full-time career in television and sportscasting.[4]

Prior to his move to the United States, Diffey commented on the Superbike World Championship and presented coverage of the World Rally Championship for the BBC in the United Kingdom,[5] working alongside Steve Parrish and Suzi Perry.[6] Additionally, Diffey covered V8 Supercars with Greg Rust,[2] Barry Sheene, Bill Woods and Mark Oastler,[7] as well as Formula One racing, both for Network Ten.[5] He also covered the 12 Hours of Sebring,[8] an even for he would call for a total of ten years.[9]

2003–2012: Speed Channel and return to Network TenEdit

In 2001, Diffey moved to the US to cover the American-based open-wheel racing CART series,[4] while still working for the BBC.[10] Two years later in 2003, Diffey made a full-time move to the States when he was hired by Speed Channel, which later simply became "Speed".[11] At Speed, Diffey was the play-by-play announcer for the network's coverage of the Speed World Challenge, the American Le Mans Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series,[12] the Rolex Grand-Am Cup,[12] the SCCA Trans-Am Series, and a regular anchor of The Speed Report and Speed Center.[12] Diffey occasionally filled in for Speed commentator Bob Varsha during the network's Formula One broadcasts.[12] He also commentated selected rounds of the AMA Superbike and AMA Motocross Championships.[13]

Diffey worked with Speed to call several sports car races during his tenure with the network, including the 24 Hours of Daytona[14] and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.[5] While at Speed, Diffey also occasionally returned to Network Ten in Australia as a regular host for the network's nightly sports wrap, Sports Tonight.[11] He also covered other two other sports for the Australian network: sailing, hosting coverage of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race,[15] and golf,[16] which he covered for five years.[17] In 2011 alone, he covered no fewer than sixteen individual divisions of motorsport on Speed.[11]

2013–present: NBC SportsEdit

Formula One and IndyCarEdit

In November 2012, NBC Sports announced that Diffey would join its network to become the play-by-play announcer for its broadcasts of both Formula One and IndyCar events starting in 2013.[12][18] Diffey called the day of the announcement "one of the best days of my life. People have been so complimentary."[4] The announcement named David Hobbs and Steve Matchett as the analysts who would work alongside him for the Formula One broadcasts.[19] In December 2015, Diffey, Hobbs and Matchett were given an Honorable Mention in a list of Best Broadcast Teams of the year published on the Sports Illustrated website SI.com.[20]

On two occasions, Diffey has covered both series on the same day. On 23 August 2015, he called the Belgian Grand Prix from NBC's base in Stamford, Connecticut, before he and Matchett travelled to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500.[21] Likewise, on 3 September 2017, Diffey called the Italian Grand Prix in Connecticut and then travelled to Watkins Glen International for the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen.[22] Diffey's open-wheel focus shifted solely to IndyCar in 2018 when the US Formula One television rights were transferred to ESPN.[23]

NASCAREdit

Diffey serves as a recurring co-host of NASCAR America, a weekday NBCSN program dedicated to NASCAR.[24] While he had covered NASCAR practice and qualifying sessions with Speed,[11] it was not until his tenure with NBC that he made his NASCAR debut as a play-by-play announcer for a race, covering the Xfinity Series (NXS) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on 15 August 2015.[21][25] After calling the race, Diffey spoke of the experience as "a thrill...I've been a NASCAR fan and dabbled in it, and for that to be my first race was something else."[21] He also commentated the Richmond,[26] Dover,[27] and Kansas NXS races.[28]

Diffey made his Sprint Cup Series broadcasting debut alongside Dale Jarrett at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2015, leading NBCSN's "Hot Pass" coverage of NASCAR's championship race, which focused solely on the four drivers still eligible for the series championship.[29] Diffey reprised this role with Parker Kligerman in the 2016 Homestead race,[30] and again with Jarrett in 2017.[31]

In August 2017, Diffey served as the lead announcer for NASCAR on NBC's primary coverage of the renamed Monster Energy Cup Series for two races (Watkins Glen and Michigan), filling in for regular announcer Rick Allen who was working in London with NBC's coverage of the 2017 World Championships in Athletics.[32]

Global RallycrossEdit

Diffey served as lead announcer for several events of NBCSN's coverage of Red Bull Global Rallycross beginning with the opening event from Fort Lauderdale in the 2015 season.[33] He continued to cover the series for the network until the series folded, doing play-by-play for the final round of the 2017 season from the Port of Los Angeles on 14 October.[34]

Dakar RallyEdit

Diffey serves as the US announcer for the daily world feed highlight broadcast of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN.[35]

Other sportsEdit

Diffey has worked on NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games as well, covering luge, skeleton, and bobsled at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.[36] NBC executive Sam Flood had expressed interest in having him serve as an announcer outside of motorsports while negotiating his contract with the network,[37] and he prepared Diffey for the Olympics by having him host the Penn Relays and the Luge World Cup.[37] Diffey remarked of serving in the Olympics: "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this is where my career would take me. Just working for NBC, that alone made my life. Now going to the Olympics for NBC? I just pinch myself as if to wonder is this really happening?"[37] He returned to the Olympics to cover rowing at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro,[12] and also called the same events he had in Sochi at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyongchang.[38][39]

Beyond the Olympics, Diffey has covered rugby, anchoring studio coverage of Premiership Rugby and doing play-by-play for the Collegiate Rugby Championship.[40] He also covered the Prefontaine Classic in 2018.[41]

Personal lifeEdit

Diffey obtained his United States citizenship in 2011,[4][42] explaining, "This country has given me so much, and I felt I needed to give back. That's why I accepted US citizenship. I'm Australian and I'm also American."[1] A former resident of Charlotte, North Carolina,[5] he currently resides in Connecticut with his wife and two children.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Hallenbeck, Todd (3 May 2014). "Uniquely Diffey". Motoring. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Rust content ahead of final Supercars event". Motorsports Hub. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  3. ^ Diffey, Leigh (1 March 2013). "Leigh Diffey on F1: Cover me up..." Racer. Racer Media & Marketing Inc. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lewandowski, Dave (16 November 2012). "Diffey Readies to Transfer His Energy to Broadcasts". IndyCar.com. Brickyard Trademarks, Inc. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Veteran Motorsports Voices Leigh Diffey, Davis Hobbs and Steve Machett to Call Formula One for NBC Sports Group". NBC Sports. TV by the Numbers. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  6. ^ "SundayGrandstand". BBC. 9 September 2001. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  7. ^ "Mark Oastler". Speedcafe.com. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  8. ^ "Australian Sebring Telecast". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. 29 March 2000. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  9. ^ Leigh Diffey [@leighdiffey] (23 March 2018). "Maybe mate. I did Sebring for 10 years ... haven't been in ages but look forward to the next visit ... awesome event 👍" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  10. ^ "BBC Sets Speed Trap". BBC Sport. 6 September 2001. Archived from the original on 2 March 2003. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c d "SPEED USA at Bathurst and Gold Coast". Speedcafe.com. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Leigh Diffey: Formula One and IndyCar Play-by-Play Announcer". NBC Sports. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  13. ^ "AMA Pro Racing Show on Speed Channel". AMA Pro Racing (Press release). MotoUSA.com. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  14. ^ "Broadcast schedule for Daytona 24". Speed Channel (Press release). Motorsport.com. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  15. ^ "Satellite phone company to sponsor yacht race". Comms Critical. 22 December 2004. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  16. ^ Porter, Ewan (1 November 2013). Tour Confidential: A Golfer's Life on the Global Stage. BookBaby. ISBN 978-1-4835-1153-5. My services were requested upon the completion of play at the Channel 10 commentary box where host, Leigh Diffey, spent 15 minutes asking me all about my dramatic day. 
  17. ^ Doolittle, Dave (20 February 2014). "NBC's Leigh Diffey on calling the Olympics: 'Nothing compares to this'". Austin American-Statesman. Cox Media Group. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  18. ^ McKay, Peter (16 November 2012). "Aussie scores big break Stateside". The Newcastle Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  19. ^ Mickle, Tripp (11 March 2013). "Race is on: NBC makes big F1 push". Sports Business Daily. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  20. ^ Deitsch, Richard (22 December 2015). "Media Persons of the Year". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c DiZinno, Tony (20 August 2015). "NBC's Leigh Diffey prepared, focused, thankful ahead of F1/IndyCar Sunday double broadcast". NBC Sports. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  22. ^ DiZinno, Tony (2 September 2017). "Second 'Diffey doubleheader' to kick off NBCSN racing tripleheader". NBC Sports. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  23. ^ Elizalde, Pablo (4 October 2017). "ESPN replaces NBC as F1 broadcaster in the US". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  24. ^ NBC Sports news release (11 February 2014). "NBCSN to Launch NASCAR America Feb. 24". NASCAR.com (Press release). NASCAR Media Group, LLC. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  25. ^ "NBCSN to Air NASCAR Double-Feature This Weekend". Broadway World. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  26. ^ "NBCSN Presents "The Last Race to Make the Chase" this Weekend in Primetime from Richmond International Raceway". NBC Sports (Press release). 9 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  27. ^ "NBC Sports Group's Press Pass – What to Watch October 2-4, 2015". NBC Sports (Press release). 2 October 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  28. ^ "Kansas Lottery 300 (Television Coverage)". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  29. ^ "NBC/NBCSN to offer dual coverage of Sprint Cup finale". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. NBC Sports Group. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2017. 
  30. ^ Bonkowski, Jerry (15 November 2016). "NBCSN's 'Hot Pass' to offer additional coverage of Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday". NBC Sports. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  31. ^ "NBCSN to Present Hot Pass Coverage This Sunday, as Complement to NBC's Presentation of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship". NBC Sports (Press release). 15 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  32. ^ Howard, Tom (4 August 2017). "Diffey to call maiden NASCAR Cup race". Speedcafe.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  33. ^ "Watch GRC Lites from Fort Lauderdale on NBCSN" (Press release). Red Bull GRC. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  34. ^ "2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship to Be Decided on NBC This Saturday at 4:30 P.M. ET". NBC Sports (Press release). 12 October 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  35. ^ "NBCSN to Present Coverage of the 2017 Dakar Rally Starting Today". NBC Sports (Press release). January 3, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2018. 
  36. ^ "Leigh Diffey takes break from motorsports to make Olympic debut for NBC". Fox News. Associated Press. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  37. ^ a b c Fryer, Jenna (7 February 2014). "NBC's Diffey Leaves Race Track for Olympic Debut". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  38. ^ "NBC Olympics Announces Record 89 Commentators for Coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from Pyeongchang, South Korea". NBC Sports (Press release). 24 January 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 
  39. ^ "Ridgefielders in Pyeongchang: Diffey to call West's luge race Saturday". The Ridgefield Press. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 
  40. ^ Malone, Michael (30 May 2017). "NBC Sports Group to Air College Rugby Championship". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  41. ^ "Olympic Gold Medalists Allyson Felix & Justin Gatlin To Headline NBC Sports' Track & Field Coverage From Eugene, Oregon". NBC Sports (Press release). Broadway World. May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2018. 
  42. ^ Kallmann, Dave (14 March 2014). "How important is it to have an American on U.S. Formula One broadcasts?". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. USA Today Network. Retrieved 7 August 2017.