Former Holden and Peter Brock public relations man Tim ‘Plastic’ Pemberton has lost his battle with a long-term illness in Melbourne.
Pemberton was inducted into the Supercars Media Hall of Fame earlier this year and built an enviable reputation around ‘old school’ PR during a career that spanned more than 30 years.
Pemberton has basically been confined to his home and medical facilities for the past few years after being unable to use his legs.
He received his Supercars Media Hall of Fame award in February with an amusingly recorded acceptance speech.
Pemberton started his own company in 1976 after being involved with Brock and the ’05’ campaign for the Road Safety and Traffic Authority.
“Both myself and Brock toured Victoria in a battered Gemini and spoke to young motorists about road safety in local civic centers everywhere from Warrnambool to Wodonga,” Pemberton told Speedcafe.com in a ‘Where are they now’ feature in 2010.
“My mission was to prep the PR, book the venues and run the 16mm projector while Brock did his word as only he could.
“With Brock going to the Holden Dealer Team” [HDT] in 1978 I think I was part of the package – since PR operators didn’t exist as such then.
“I was contracted directly by GMH [General Motors Holden] which was great because Brock was never quite sure where his next penny was coming from until HDT Special Vehicles got off the ground.
“That went on for 30 years, largely under the leadership of Holden Motorsport, which came about after Brock polarized himself out of the equation in 1987.”
Pemberton and Brock devised plans to give Ford, Allan Moffat and Dick Johnson a hard time in the media, fueling the fire between Holden and Ford.
“Brock had always been sort of his own PR machine and proved excellent at hitting the odd inches on and off the track, setting the standard for those to follow,” said Pemberton.
“One of Brock’s best sayings was, ‘I think I’d throw up if I had to back up a Ford in a driveway!’ The newspapers liked that.”
Pemberton was known for his publicity stunts with his ‘favorite’ made around Melbourne’s return Grand Prix in 1996.
“I filmed Larry Perkins driving a Statesman Safety Car around the rebuilt F1 track before it was even finished!” Pemberton told Speedcafe.com.
“The trick was to go to the CCTV footage in the car where the track didn’t exist. We then accelerated the vision and put an F1 soundtrack over the whole thing.
“It looked fantastic and the TV news loved it, but the Grand Prix Corp wasn’t too happy because we deliberately forgot to get top-level clearance, but as Holden was the sponsor of the celebrity race, the AGP CEO had to keep it sweet. †
Although his nickname was famous for decades, he never wanted to give up where he came from.
“I’ve been nicknamed ‘Plastic’ since the ’60s and people always want to know why,” Pemberton said.
“The answer? Why are redheads called Bluey?”
The founder and owner of Speedcafe.com, Brett “Crusher” Murray, had a friendly rivalry with Pemberton for years.
“In my early days of PR, we bumped into each other a bit, but we had mutual respect for each other,” Murray said.
“We would always recognize each other when we came up with a great stunt or idea.
“I’m not so sure we would have been so cordial if we both hadn’t had a passion for Carlton Football Club, which ironically was the subject of most of our conversations before moving on to motorsport.
“They definitely don’t make them as ‘Plastic’ anymore and the sport has gotten worse for it.”
Speedcafe.com extends its condolences to Pemberton’s family, friends, former customers and colleagues.
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