The sport of motorcycling lost one of its larger than life characters with the sudden death of Derek Mason at Nutts Corner Stock Car Track on Boxing Day.
Derek, or ‘Big D’ as he was affectionately known, had been the voice of motorcycle racing at road races and short circuits the length and breadth of Ireland for more than 30 years with his unique brand of commentary.
Derek’s day job prior to retirement was as a technician at a Belfast College, but it is as a race commentator that he will be remembered as he carried a wealth of knowledge about competitors from world champions to the lesser known names on the grids and in his commentary he always made sure everyone right down the field got a mention.
Even spectators were liable to get a mention in the craic and banter that Derek brought to his race day commentaries, something that will bring a smile to many peoples faces, as they think about him at this sad time.
What ‘Big D’ didn’t know about riders and the sport he usually went out of his way to find out in his own inimitable way.
Setting up his own PA equipment at all the events where he commentated meant an earlier than usual start and it is an abiding memory that I personally have of walking along a road one race morning close to Fore village in Co Westmeath and hearing this animated voice coming from among the trees lining part of the circuit.
On closer inspection there was Big D in pre-race mode, up a ladder, uttering a few choice words as he fixed cables and loudspeakers into position ready for race commentary (no wireless nor Wifi in those days).
Big D also covered karting, car hill climbs and sprints, rowing, the Belfast Marathon, Lisburn Half Marathon and a number of town festival events. Indeed Derek was a former chairman of both the North of Ireland and Ulster Karting associations.
Sadly another of motorcycle racing's great characters with a big personality has departed the scene. Deepest sympathies are extended to his wife Mary, his sons and daughters and the entire Mason family circle.
His funeral service is at Roselawn today at 1pm.