Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking ahead to NBC F1 in 2013

As the Formula One season ends Sunday in Interlagos, NBC announced the lead voice for most F1 races will be INDYCAR play-by-play man Leigh Diffey from Brisbane, Queensland (Australia). For those who haven't heard the 41-year old Charlotte-based commentator, here are some wild clips of him to familiarise yourself with his call.

Most play-by-play men take to the helm of bigger events when they are older. In this case, Diffey was 26 when the Great Australian Touring Car Split occurred in 1997 (television was the dispute between the Seven and Ten networks; Seven had Bathurst's legendary 1,000km event, but refused to let the race be on Ten, which had the Australian Touring Car (V8 Supercars) contract, relegating the 1,000 in its October date to the European 2000cc Super Touring format and the V8's had to find another date. (Murray Walker ironically was on Seven's broadcast team for the Super Touring 1000) Ironically, this is similar to what has happened with V8 today in Melbourne. Currently, Seven has the rights to V8 Supercars (contract ends at the end of 2012) and Ten has Formula One rights. In order for Australia's favourite 5000cc formula to race in Melbourne after V8 went from Ten to Seven in 2007, it changed from championship to an exhibition race, non-championship event. (Why Abu Dhabi's V8 round can be a championship race I don't know but Ten picks up a British television broadcast of the race for all but their own race so they don't worry; V8 will race in Austin for May.)

For Ten's five-litre formula call, Diffey had the call with the late British motorcycling legend Barry Sheene (whose name now is laid on a crucial turn in the forest at Brands Hatch): 1997: Craig Lowndes, who would become a legend of the Mountain, hits the wall:

2005: Every Australian knows this incident on the Mountain. Ambrose vs Murphy It was Ambrose's last time on the Mountain. Both Ambrose and Diffey are now Charlotte based.

That led to this hilarious interview between the two parties, six years later, with Ambrose in Kansas City and Murphy in Bathurst. Another Charlotte-based commentator, Mike Joy, who is on the Mountain for the 2011 Great Race, presides over this verbal fight. If Mike had his way, he would have had a spotter in The Cutting report it before the pictures showed him the result.

2011: Diffey's career started in public address systems for motorcycling and he calls what has become sadly a type of motorcycling event that has faded from the international scene, the 200-mile, 320km format that once was prominent in races such as Imola. Daytona's Sportbike race now has the classic distance:

It still is not known what will happen for the five to seven races that Diffey will be unavailable because of INDYCAR commitments.
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