Bob Varsha has been in the spotlight as a professional auto racing broadcaster since the 1980s, but the Northport, New York native will now have to put his career on hold as he battles an aggressive and rare form of prostate cancer. Varsha, who has worked for such networks as ESPN, NBC Sports, Speed Channel, and Fox Sports, will require intensive chemotherapy over the next several months. It's expected that the 68-year-old will not be able to travel or continue his broadcasting work until June at the earliest.
A GoFundMe page was started to support the Varsha family during this difficult time, and, so far, more than $23,000 has been raised. Following the news of Varsha's diagnosis, a number of members of the racing community, from racers to journalists, sent their best wishes to the motorsports icon.
Bob Varsha's Broadcasting Career
While Bob Varsha didn't get his start in the motorsports world until relatively later in life, you could say he's pretty much always had a passion for racing. Of the track and field variety, that is. He won varsity letters in cross country and track during his undergrad years at Dartmouth College, and while attending Emory University School of Law, he made the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon event twice. In 1980, Varsha won the inaugural Peach Bowl Half Marathon.
He began his career as a broadcaster in the 1980s, after TBS asked him to cover the Peachtree Road Race, which he helped organize as a member of the Atlanta Track Club. This led to a part-time gig at TBS, and then in 1986, Varsha joined ESPN, hosting the network's Formula One coverage as well as commentating on such events as gymnastics, figure skating, track and field and 24 Hours of Le Mans. So much for that law career.
Varsha's career as a racing broadcaster really took off when he joined the now-defunct Speed (back when it was SpeedVision) in 1999. During his tenure at Speed, he covered Formula 1, hosted the network's Champ Car coverage, was a part-time host of the World Rally Championship, and also commentated on the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.
Later, Varsha got gigs at Fox Sports as the lead broadcaster for Formula E, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and FIA World Endurance Championship. He also hosted several races for NBC Sports and was the play-by-play radio announcer for the 2014 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.