The radio-style broadcast that NBC Sports tried Sunday wasn’t the only thing that was different about its telecast of the I Love New York 355 at The Glen. But it was the only thing fans mostly were in favor of.
Leigh Diffey, who does play-by-play on NBC’s Formula One coverage, filled in for Rick Allen for the race at Watkins Glen International, and many fans took issue with the network putting him in the booth for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series broadcast.
Why? Apparently, their displeasure didn’t stem from anything he said, but with his accent.
Although some people on Twitter noted that they enjoyed Diffey’s commentating, many said they didn’t like having a “British” announcer call a stock car race. Some even implied that, because Diffey has an accent, he couldn’t possibly have the necessary expertise to provide play-by-play.
It likely was “messing with their heads” because the 46-year-old analyst isn’t British. Diffey actually is Australian, but people mistook his Aussie pronunciation for everything from an Irish brogue to a New England accent — although, as NBC Sports’ F1 reporter Will Buxton pointed out, the latter isn’t entirely false.
After the conclusion of Sunday’s Cup race, members of the NASCAR community tweeted either to correct people, to make fun of the mistake or to simply point out that it really shouldn’t matter where he hails from.
It’s worth noting that Aussies are more conscious of NASCAR than many fans realize. F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, for instance, chose No. 3 as his race number because he was a big fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr. What’s more, Australian driver Marcos Ambrose won a Cup race in 2012 at Watkins Glen, and as Diffey mentioned prior to Sunday’s race, Erik Jones’ crew chief, James Small, also is from down under.
Given how negatively some viewers reacted to hearing Diffey, you’d assume he was bad as the actual Brits, who recently parodied British commentators calling a NASCAR race.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@leighdiffey