Hales distinguishes himself by having raced or tested almost every type of racing car ever built, ranging from NASCAR and Formula One, through to Touring Cars and rare classic machines.
Some of the most prominent belong to Nick Mason’s Ten Tenths Collection, including the Ferrari GTO valued at £5,000,000 that he drove to victory at Le Mans.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Mark Hales has raced or tested almost every type of car ever built. He has also developed a parallel career as a writer which has earnt world-wide recognition for an ability to sit the reader in the driving seat and take them along for the drive. This combination of driving and writing skills is key to the driver coaching programmes which Mark has developed over the last 10 years. For more on these, click here.
My passion for cars and driving began as it did for so many similar youngsters in the carefree days of the late 1960s; whatever I drove had to be driven faster than anything or anybody else. I endured the driving bans when officialdom didn't share my passion for speed, suffered the shunts when the pace exceeded knowledge and experience. And I was always skint. Any money I had always went on something with wheels and an engine, and always accounted for the entire amount available at the time.
Following such automotive interest was without doubt at the expense of a conventional career but it was an apprenticeship that would prove extremely useful later on. I learnt how to maintain things on a budget and developed an interest in the unusual. All the local car dealers knew where to bring a weird and wonderful part exchange they couldn't sell anywhere else. And then in the early 1970s, I found out I could go racing - which was a very different story compared with how it is now. Almost a secret activity at club racing level, there was little information on how to do it and no track days where you could get to experience Silverstone or Brands. You bought or built a car, applied for an RAC licence, joined a club and entered a race. My first was at Croft Autodrome with a 4.7 litre left hand drive Sunbeam Tiger which I had towed there behind an NSU Ro80.
The 1980s led via a number of MG Midgets, Lotus Elans and a Marcos V6 to a Mazda RX3 and a Rover V8 and finally on to the British Saloon Car Championship, National Saloons, Porsche Cup and TVR Tuscans, followed by Touring Cars and British GTs. Almost more important than the titles though, and the total of victories - now numbering well over 200 - the mid 1980s at last saw a career. I became a writer and journalist. First commission was for Cars and Car Conversions, then staff jobs at Motoring News, Motor Magazine and Fast Lane, then the Daily Telegraph's motoring section to which I remained a regular contributor for over 20 years. I still write regularly for motoring publications like Octane - which probably reflects the historic cars I usually drive these days. And to Flyer Magazine... I learnt to fly during the 1980s and have since logged over 3,000 hours in all kinds of aircraft, singles and twins, nosewheel and especially tailwheel but just as with the cars, the more unusual the better.
The hard back book Into the Red which I wrote together with musician and car collector Nick Mason in 1998 became a best seller of its kind and is now in its fourth reprint as Passion for Speed. It was the beginning of a friendship with Nick that has seen me drive his cars every year since - most notably at Goodwood's Revival. In 2011, partnered by former Grand Prix driver-turned favourite commentator Martin Brundle, I took Nick's Ferrari GTO to a memorable second place in the pouring rain, against all the hot rod Goodwood specials.