Ten Minutes With Leigh Diffey
A Formula 1 broadcaster
Leigh Diffey is recognized around the world for his expert motorsports commentary. He is the anchor of NBC Sports’ Formula 1, IndyCar, and NASCAR broadcasts. Diffey was also handling the play-by-play at the Luge World Cup in Lake Placid last December when Ridgefielder Tucker West won gold. An Australian, he is the first foreigner to do play-by-play for NBC Olympics coverage. In January 2015, Diffey, his wife, and two young sons moved to Ridgefield. We spoke with him recently.
Were you a racing fan as a kid? I was. From the age of six I started racing motorcycles.
That’s pretty young. What type of racing did you do? Dirt bikes. Mostly flat track and motocross. Instead of going to Boy Scouts or cricket or football it was motor-cycle tracks. I still have the first 50cc Honda motorcycle that I raced.
How did you get your start in broadcasting? There was a local motorcycle club just outside of Brisbane. My older brother was a national champion. When he would win, I would do his acceptance speeches. The club asked me to fill in as a commentator. They paid me $60, and I had to call almost 100 races!
How do American NASCAR fans react to an Aussie commentator? I don’t really know. It’s a policy of mine not to read forums or message boards. I just make sure I’m fully ready when I go on the air.
You do most of the F1 broadcasts from the NBC Sports studios in Stamford. Is it challenging for you not being onsite? When it comes time to call the race, there is absolutely no difference. Whether we are onsite or in the studio, we call it exactly the same. The difference is when we’re onsite, we might be able to add some interesting little anecdotes.
You have a great rapport with your F1 co-hosts. How did that chemistry develop? If you have off-air chemistry, you naturally will have on-air chemistry. The hardest thing is to do a TV show with someone you haven’t had breakfast and coffee with or dinner and a glass of wine with. With every co-commentator that I’ve had, I’ve always worked really hard off-air so we know each other’s families. We try to have dinner together every night during a race weekend.
You called luge in Sochi where Tucker West made his Olympic debut. Do you remember calling his races? I do. In fact I remember saying, “For those watching in Ridgefield, Connecticut, this is your guy.” I never thought I would be living in Ridgefield just a year later.
You spend your days in a very exciting, high-energy world. How do you spend your free time? I love working in the yard doing landscaping projects. And I love playing golf.
Being a golfer, have you had a chance to play the Ridgefield golf course? I have. It’s a great little course! A hidden gem.
Living in Ridgefield, what is your favorite thing about this town? The sense of community. We’ve really been welcomed with open arms. I will always remember the first day I drove down Main Street, and I thought this looks like something out of a movie. This is too good to be