Even motorsport fanatics may not have heard of Tim Pemberton. ‘Plastic,’ as he is better known in the V8 paddock, has been an ATCC/V8 Supercar stalwart for more than 30 years.
He started his own business in 1976 when he was involved with Peter Brock and the ‘05’ campaign for the Road Safety and Traffic Authority.
“Both myself and Brock toured Victoria in a battered Gemini speaking to young drivers about road safety in local civic centres everywhere from Warrnambool to Wodonga,” Pemberton said.
“My mission was to do the advance PR, book the venues and run the 16mm projector while Brock said his bit as only he could do.
“With Brock going to the Holden Dealer Team (HDT) in 1978 I guess I was part of the package – as PR operators didn’t exist as such back then.
“I was contracted direct by GMH (General Motors Holden) which was terrific as Brock was never quite sure where his next quid was coming from until HDT Special Vehicles got off the ground.
“That went on for 30 years, largely under the direction of Holden Motorsport, which came into being after Brock polarized himself out of the equation in 1987.”
Pemberton and Brock used to hatch up schemes giving Ford, Allan Moffat and Dick Johnson a hard time in the media, fuelling the Holden versus Ford fire.
“Brock had always been pretty much his own PR machine and proved excellent at gaining the odd column inch on and off the track, setting the standard for those that followed,” said Pemberton.
“One of Brock’s greatest lines was “I think I’d throw up if I had to back a Ford down a driveway!” The newspapers loved that.”
PR and Publicity professionals report the news from the V8 garage and plan activities to promote their client. There have been some fantastic stunts created over the years with Pemberton’s favourite based around Melbourne’s first Grand Prix.
“I filmed Larry Perkins piloting a Statesman safety car around the rebuilt F1 circuit even before it was finished!” said Pemberton.
“The trick was to cut to the in-car camera shots where the track did not exist. We then sped up the vision and laid an F1 soundtrack across the whole thing.
“It looked fantastic and the TV news loved it, but the Grand Prix Corp wasn’t too happy as we had deliberately forgotten to gain top level permission, but as Holden was the celebrity race sponsor the AGP top brass had to cop it sweet.”
While Pemberton does not go to many rounds these days he still runs his own Melbourne based Publicity business and is still involved in automotive PR.
“I do a bit with Mark Skaife from time to time, plus the Peter Brock Foundation,” Pemberton said.
“I’m also involved in the National Trust project of preserving Melbourne’s vintage trams.”
And as to the meaning behind his nickname?
“I’ve had the nickname “Plastic” since the 60s and people always want to know why,” said Pemberton.
“The answer? Why are redheads called Bluey?”