PUEBLO, Colo. – If there is one takeaway from Dave Mason’s rookie season so far this year, it has to be the 27-year-old’s knack for attempting to grit his way to the 8-second mark.
Mason’s six qualified rides on the Built Ford Tough Series this year have been nothing extraordinary – even he admits that – but what has stood out the most is the Australian’s determination to hang on even when out of position.
“Well, I was always taught that,” Mason said. “Troy Dunn always said the only way to do what you want to do is to keep your hand shut. If you are not willing to keep your hand shut until your head hits the ground then you are wasting your time getting on them.”
According to Mason, that also involves trying to keep your hand shut even when you are hurt.
“You have to do what it takes no matter what it costs to get it done,” he added.
Mason spent the last three months before the Built Ford Tough Series summer break trying to battle through a riding hand injury he sustained at the Lethbridge, Alberta, Touring Pro Division event in the beginning of March.
The sprain only continued to worsen, and he struggled to find the strength in his hand that he needed to hang on to make the 8-second mark.
Mason, who competed in five BFTS events last year, ended up going 1-for-19 following his hand injury after debuting in Anaheim, California, and going 5-for-11 in his first five BFTS events this year.
“I was sitting good when I first got here and then you get hurt and you try and push through,” Mason said. “But as much as you try, with them level of bulls you have no room for error. It started to comeback and bite me a bit, but I am starting to feel better.”
If there was one consolation, Mason showed he had the backbone to try and fight his way to the way 8-second mark despite not being 100 percent.
The Bulahdelah, Australia, native is set to compete at this month’s three PBR Australia Cup events in Cairns, Sydney (July 11) and Brisbane (July 18). The first event is this weekend’s Cairns Invitational.
“We have three big events three weeks in a row,” Mason said in May. “I will go to them and see my family and then I will come back the day after that finishes.”
In fact, Mason believes he has more backbone in him to help remain in the Top 35 before the BFTS resumes in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Aug. 7.
“We are going to see how much backbone I have any way,” Mason added. “Oh, and I got a lot more left.”
Mason is currently the 36th bull rider in the world standings and he is hoping to once again gain enough points like he did in the fall to remain on the BFTS in the second half. Mason went 16-for-21 in PBR Australia TPD events before competing full time on the BFTS this past March.
He also wants fans to know he is still the same Aussie that he was before cracking the Top 35 of the world standings. Yes, he is the second highest-ranked Australian-born bull rider in the world, but he is still the same old Dave Mason.
“I am just a kickback guy,” he said. “I am always up having a bit of fun and mucking around doing whatever. If I ever take things too seriously I always mess it up. As soon as you let things like that change you, you are going backwards. You have to stay true to who you are. Coming on tour people start knowing you, but I believe you have to stay true to who you are.
“The mates will still give me (crap) and it will be the same I reckon.”
Mason made a name for himself this season with various colorful riding shirts that caught the attention of his fellow riders and fans at home.
He now hopes that with a healthier hand he can catch the attention of fans in the United States with his riding ability that he thinks they have yet to see.
“I reckon that I have only touched the surface of showing what I can do,” Mason said. “There have been no rides that stick out to me. I am happy with a few of my rides, but there is more to come from me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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