Tony Mason

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Tony Mason
Tony Mason.jpgMason in 1997, promoting Eddie Stobart.
Full Name Tony Mason
Nationality Flaguk.png Great Britain
Sex Male
Occupation Presenter of Rally Report
Presenter of Top Gear (1977 TV series)
Presenter of Top Gear Motorsport
Presenter of Classic Car Club
On-screen debut Rally Report: Series 3, Episode 1 (1986)
Final appearance Classic Car Club: Episode 10 (2005)

Tony Mason was a British rallying expert, co-driver (including winning[1] the 1972 RAC Rally as co-driver for Roger Clark), and classic car and off-roading enthusiast who presented programmes such as Rally Report, Top Gear, and its motorsport-themed spinoff during the 1980s and 90s.

Career[edit | edit source]

Born sometime around or prior to 1944[2], Tony Mason would serve as co-driver to several rally drivers throughout his career, including Robert H. Lamb, Roy Mapple, and David Cowan, almost winning[3] the 1971 Seven Dales Rally with Peter Clarke at the wheel, before his most successful partnership began with Roger Clark in 1972. Starting the year off with a win[4] at the rally where victory had eluded him a year earlier, the pair would re-unite at the end of the year and claim the overall victory[5] for the RAC Rally of Great Britain, the final round of the IMC, the predecessor to the modern-day WRC. The pair would come close to repeating this feat in 1973 and 1975, narrowly losing out to Timo Mäkinen by a matter of minutes on both occasions, before Mason retired at the end of that year.

As automotive journalist[edit | edit source]

Mason's first outing as journalist came in 1974, when he wrote[6] the commentary script for Barrie Hinchliffe's documentary Rally Driving.

Initially helping to present the third series of Rally Report in 1986 along with William Woollard and Barrie Gill, Mason became Top Gear's full-time rallying correspondent less than a year later, and would serve in this capacity from Series 18 in 1987 through to Series 36 in 1996, before spending his final four series on the show occasionally presenting motorsports segments but also reviewing cars, both normal production vehicles and kit cars. This was due to Mason getting older and the BBC beginning to disassociate itself from broadcasting coverage of the World Rally Championship, shelving Rally Report in 1998 before losing[7] the broadcast rights altogether in 2001. In addition to rallying, Mason would also present segments on heavy machinery such as trucks and buses, particularly vintage and steam-powered ones.

Overall, Mason would appear in approximately[8][9] 128 episodes of Top Gear before retiring at the end of Series 40, his final appearance being Series 43, Episode 3 in 2000 as part of a one-off reunion with other former presenters such as Jeremy Clarkson. In 1996, Mason would hold the unique distinction of having driven the most expensive vehicle that he or anyone else in Top Gear's history has ever driven - the £15 million Volvo Environmental Concept Bus, which is a record Mason still holds[10] as of 2022. That same segment, Mason had also drove the Volvo Environmental Concept Truck, which was valued at £10 million. On top of this, Mason holds another interesting distinction of being one of just three people to have appeared on both Top Gear and its immediate predecessor which aired in the '60s and early '70s; Wheelbase. The other two people which share this distinction were Judith Jackson and the aforementioned Barrie Gill. However, Mason was the only person of these three to not appear in a hosting capacity, but rather as Roger Clark's co-driver.

Later years and personal life[edit | edit source]

A year after leaving Top Gear, Mason would provide the voiceover for the 1999 video game Mobil 1 Rally Championship. In 2000, he would also provide narration[11] for the home video documentary The World's Greatest Rally Cars, which also featured Stig Blomqvist and Colin McRae. According to Top Gear scriptwriter Richard Porter, Mason also publicly endorsed[12] anti-static straps designed to combat vehicular motion sickness. During the mid 2000s, Mason would briefly team-up with presenters such as Edd China and Penny Mallory in order to present Classic Car Club and Off The Road for the Discovery network under China's production company[13] Attaboy TV. In 2013, he would write and publish[14] Mason's Motoring Mayhem, an autobiography which detailed many facets of Mason's life.

Despite the same surname, significant facial resemblance and similar hobbies, Mason was not related to Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Independent - Obituary: Roger Clark.
  2. Tony Mason's first rally event as co-driver happened in 1962, making him at least 18 by then.
  3. EWRC Results - Seven Dales Rally 1971 (Final Results).
  4. EWRC Results - Mintex Dales Rally 1972 (Final Results).
  5. EWRC Results - Daily Mirror RAC Rally 1972 (Final Results).
  6. BFI - Rally Driving (1974).
  7. Crash - Channel 4 set to revolutionise WRC TV coverage.
  8. Disputed figure; IMDb does not list a few of his pre-1988 appearances and may be closer to 135.
  9. IMDb - Tony Mason.
  10. The only vehicle more expensive than the ECB is the Bugatti La Voiture Noire priced at £16 million; should a Top Gear presenter ever drive this, then the record will be broken.
  11. IMDb - The World's Greatest Rally Cars (2000).
  12. SniffPetrol - November 2001.
  13. IMDb - Attaboy TV.
  14. Goodreads - Mason's Motoring Mayhem.

Navigation[edit | edit source]