TIM ‘Plastic’ Pemberton, the long-time Holden Motorsport and Peter Brock media relations manager, has died in Melbourne.
Pemberton was part of a golden era of Australian motorsport from the mid 1970s onwards, forging a link with Brock through working for an advertising agency that worked with the Road Safety and Traffic Authority in Victoria and its sponsorship of Brock.
Pemberton then created ‘Pemberton Publicity Services’ and managed Holden’s motorsport public relations and media work for its drivers and teams – including for Brock in the period prior to his Holden bust-up and in the aftermath from when he joined the Holden Racing Team – for the best part of 30 years.
Pemberton is responsible for some iconic terms in the sport’s history, coining ‘Big Bangers’, a term used on a Holden Dealer Team pre-event poster for the last Group C Commodores to race at Bathurst in 1984.
THE BIG BANGERS: Holden’s iconic Group C Bathurst kings
CHASING 300 KM/H: A top speed Holden Motorsport PR promotion with Win Percy at the wheel
“I just thought, well, it’s the last race for the big five litres … it’s the last of the ‘Big Bangers’,” Pemberton told V8 Sleuth for a Supercars website story in 2019.
“We did a poster with the car on it and what have you, and the media guys thought it wasn’t bad and got hold of it and used it to promote the Bathurst race.”
He also, with a throwaway line, helped Brock name the box of crystals and magnets that created a wave of controversy in 1986 and 1987 prior to Holden pulling the pin on its favourite son. The ‘Energy Polarizer’ remains forever part of the lexicon of Australian motorsport and motoring.
Plastic was ‘old school’, a paper and pen PR rather than high tech computer-type. Those that received an email from ‘Tim Pemberton’ really had received what one of his employees had typed out and sent on his behalf after he’d hand-written the original communication.
He was street-smart, more politically savvy that he’d ever claim credit for and didn’t mind stirring the pot. Media stunts and dreaming up PR opportunities (some of them wacky, some of them simple) that turned into precious column inches in newspapers and minutes on TV were his absolute specialty.
A keen Carlton supporter who retained a strong interest in Supercars despite not being able to attend trackside for many years (he told V8 Sleuth during a recent visit of his admiration for current championship leader Shane van Gisbergen), Pemberton had endured a difficult time during the last few years with his health.
He was inducted into the Supercars Media Hall of Fame earlier this year and was presented with his Hall of Fame Medallion by his former employee, V8 Sleuth MD Aaron Noonan, in Melbourne the following week.
V8 Sleuth sends our condolences to Plastic’s family, mates and motorsport colleagues. There indeed will never be another one like him.