IndyCar commentator line-up for NBC + Peacock in 2021

Who are the folks behind the microphones for the 17 races in the 2021 IndyCar races, the third year of NBC’s exclusive deal to cover the NTT IndyCar Series?

IndyCar commentator line-up for NBC + Peacock in 2021

Leigh Diffey

Australian born, U.S.-domiciled Diffey covered Supercars and Formula 1 for Australia’s Network Ten and Superbikes and the World Rally Championship for the BBC, before moving to America in 2001. There he covered the CART Indy car series for the now defunct SPEED channel, America’s premier sportscar races, Trans Am and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as regularly anchoring the Speed Report and Speed Center programs.

Switching to NBC Sports for 2013, Diffey became play-by-play announcer for both IndyCar and Formula 1, and he has maintained the former role, although ESPN replaced NBC as F1’s broadcaster… since when Diffey has added the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to his list of play-by-play duties.

Diffey is well respected for his quick identification of often similar-colored cars, for his ability to compare and contrast what he’s seeing to previous similar incidents, and for his pre-race research.

Townsend Bell

Bell, the 2001 Indy Lights champion, has a win and two third places from his three starts in the GTE Am class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, and he won his class in his first attempts at both the Sebring 12 Hours and Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Bell earned the 2015 GTD-class championship in 2015, and he remains an active driver in IMSA, driving for Vasser Sullivan Racing in an Lexus RC F.

Yet arguably Bell remains best known as one of the most adept Indy 500 “one-off” racers of this century. His best finish of fourth at the Speedway came in 2009, but was scarcely more impressive than when he qualified on the inside of the second row for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2011 and for Andretti Autosport in 2016. Indeed, if not for a pitlane issue, he could have been contending for the win in the latter event.

The San Francisco-based 45-year-old has a smooth and calm style, responding well to others’ questions, but appearing equally comfortable delivering an eloquent straight-to-camera monologue or while interviewing others.

Paul Tracy

The Indy Star reported on Monday, Apr 12, that Paul Tracy’s role would be reduced to six events/seven races in 2021, and the channel stated that it “will announce our commentator assignments on a week-to-week basis, as they can fluctuate.”

Many fans will be hoping there will be occasions when both Tracy and Bell are in the booth as the pair have good chemistry with Diffey and with each other – well, they enjoy praising and mocking one another, as and when they see fit.

Tracy is one of the legendary figures in Indy car racing, scoring 31 wins across his 20-year career – still in the Top 10 of all time – and winning the 2003 Champ Car title. His style was very much win-or-bust, willing to take 50/50 chances or indeed, chances when his odds of success were considerably lower. That earned him both admiration and annoyance – and he reveled in both, Kyle Busch-style.

Tracy remains polarizing as a commentator but fans like him to call it as he sees it and, like Bell, he knows whereof he speaks.

Marty Snider

Snider may one day be most famous as Myatt’s dad – his son is a race-winning NASCAR Trucks driver – but for now the 51-year-old is best known as a fine pitlane reporter who won’t duck from asking difficult questions of either a rookie or a veteran. He is also a genial feature interviewer, as seen most recently during the IndyCar test at IMS on Peacock’s live streaming.

His skills were learned while covering NASCAR for ESPN, CNNSI, Motor Racing Network, NBCSN, TNT and CBS. And his sheer competence as a plug-in-and-play reporter has been demonstrated by NBC, which has had him reporting on a wide variety of sports in Olympic years, as well as football, rugby, basketball and Professional Bull Riders events.

Kelli Stavast

Stavast is another of NBC’s stable of reporters who can be relied upon to do their homework before reporting on an array of sports, and she has covered diving at the 2016 Olympics, skiing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the Red Bull Air Races.

Therefore the wide panoply of four-wheeled racing is also something with which Stavast can cope, having covered both branches of the then-split U.S. sportscar scene for SPEED and ESPN, as well as the Baja 1000, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and Robby Gordon’s Stadium SuperTrucks.

But it is as a pitlane reporter in IndyCar and NASCAR that Stavast has become best known. She joined NBC in 2014, and does a fine job of conveying the excitement of being up close to the frantic pitstop action, while also taking care to convey necessary intel to the viewing public – and snatching key comments from the major players.

Dave Burns

Dave Burns is a talking head who is king of delivering a short sharp summation, the kinda guy to whom the director should cut if you need an extraordinarily complex 3-hour race described in 30 seconds. Assuming he wasn’t always so blessed, Burns doubtless learned his skills in his six-year spell reporting on NASCAR with NBC at the start of this millennium.

The Kalamazoo, MI.-born 59-year-old then joined ESPN, but returned to NBC in 2014 when the channel landed the deal to broadcast the majority of NASCAR Cup races.

As well as saying a lot in few words, Burns tends to be in the right place at the right time for the right interviews, pre-, during, and post-race.

This year he adds a further string to his bow, as he will be in rotation with Leigh Diffey as play-by-play announcer for IMSA races.

Kevin Lee

One of the most conscientious and competent reporters you could hope to find on any medium, Lee also knows when to keep quiet and let his interviewees talk, rather than show off his own knowledge – which is vast. Indianapolis-based Lee covered the Pacers for 20 years, the Colts for eight years, and is a staple of college basketball coverage on Westwood One radio.

So IndyCar racing is lucky that Lee’s most abiding passion is for racing, having covered the series for NBC/NBCSN (formerly Versus) since 2009 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Network since 2001. Although his primary role at NBC/NBCSN/Peacock is that of pitlane reporter – both in IndyCar and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – he will regularly take the play-by-play role during practice for the Indianapolis 500, for instance. He can be relied upon to be informative and play devil’s advocate when there are two (or three!) sides of a story to be heard.

Dillon Welch

Welch is the newest recruit to NBC’s IndyCar line-up, having joined the company to help cover not only U.S. open-wheel but also NASCAR and IMSA.

He was bitten by the commentating bug while an announcer and commentator for his school’s student-run TV station – a role that would eventually see him earn two Great Lakes Regional Emmy awards as executive producer of “Out of the Shadows” on Ball State men’s basketball.

Welch became a PA announcer for USAC’s dirt short-track races from 2014 through ’16, and during this period, he also joined the Motor Racing Network as a turn announcer and pitlane reporter in NASCAR.

Welch has a calm, direct and understated reporting style, cutting out the unnecessary frippery in order to cut to the chase, and this serves him well not only in IndyCar but also during IMSA broadcasts when all the leading runners pit together under a full-course caution.

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