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The Cult: Peter Brock

Peter Brock was Australia's golden boy but behind that reputation was a shady character with some very odd ideas.

Illustration by Michael Dockery

Cult Grade: Peter not-so-Perfect

In 2016, Motorsport is big in Australia. The Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park generates a lot of buzz in March, the V8 Supercars are still very popular with a particular niche of enthusiastic fans, and most people will still recognise the Bathurst 1000 and the Philip Island Moto GP if it's mentioned to them. But motorsport is not a mainstream staple of the sporting landscape.

Rewind 20 or 30 or even 40 years, and that was very different. The decades of the 1970s, 80s and 90s were a golden period for Australian motorsport due significantly to the first and brightest crossover mainstream star, Peter Brock. And Brocky lapped it up, becoming one of the most recognisable faces in the nation. Period.


That Brock was handsome and charismatic with a winning smile and an ability to entertain on camera made the man a easy crossover proposition. That he was a superstar driver who won nine Bathurst 1000s and nine Sandown 500s was an added bonus.

Brock was able to parlay his success in the car to success in business and on screen. His Holden Dealer Team created modified and turbo-charged Commodores for the open market and he was seen as the face of Australia's car manufacturer, Holden.

All this was in spite of some crackpot ideas that 'Brocky' wasn't afraid to make public, and use his celebrity to push on others. The weirdest was his insistence that Energy Polarisers be fitted to every single one of his cars. The Polariser was supposed to be a box that contained magnets and crystals that would harness Orgone Energy to harness the molecules in the engine. Thus making any car run like V8 Supercar and saving petrol. Sounds like something from a cheap science fiction comic book, but ask one of Australia's favourite sons at the time and he would swear that it was the reason he kept on winning.

Brock was able to salvage his reputation after the Polariser debacle and carried on driving and being a professional public figure until his death in a race crash in 2006 at the age of 61.

Point of entry: High

It was a simpler time when Peter Perfect was the King of Australian celebrity. He was the boy from suburban Melbourne made good who could drive a car really fast around a track and had those boy-next-door good looks. There was no such thing as digital cameras or smart phones. Brocky could go about his day to day life and only really worry about kids running up to him in the street to get him to sign their dad's copy of that day's Sun newspaper.

And because of this, the things about Brocky that were a bit off never really had a chance to affect his career in any meaningful way. I mean, sure, there was the completely bonkers crystal and magnet magic box that came standard in his car range. People thought it was weird, but didn't really know enough about it to care too much. It did lead to the end of his relationship with Holden for a few years, but before long, the saga was all forgotten and Brocky was back spruiking Astras and Commodores with Deborah Hutton on TV. It also meant that allegations of domestic abuse against his first wife were just rumours and didn't affect his reputation as they should have.


When Brocky died in a race crash in 2006, there was public grief. A State Funeral was held in Melbourne where, according to news reports, thousands of fans brought the city to a standstill.

And then came the public airing of personal issues that he'd been so adept at keeping private. Few knew that he had split with his wife, Bev, prior to his death. Even fewer knew that they never married and that Bev had just changed her surname to Brock by deed poll. And then there was Julie, Brocky's girlfriend and Bev's former best friend.

The fight over his estate played out over a number of years, and both Bev and Julie made claims.

A new biopic of Brocky's life will air on Channel 10 this year. It's got the support of Bev and Julie as well as other people who are protective of the Brock legacy. So you know it will be complementary. Let's just hope it covers the whole story of the crystals and magnets and the domestic abuse along with the wins, smiles and adulation.

The Moment: Peter Brock's Death. Targa West Rally, September 8th, 2006

Brocky had retired from V8 Supercar driving in 1997 after 25 years behind the wheel. He made various appearances at races over the following years, and was an enthusiast of Targa rally racing like the one he was competing in on the day of his death. Western Australian police concluded that Brock's death was caused by speed and an inquest was not needed.

Final words on Peter Brock:

"I have plans for my future and I don't see any role for you in them.''

According to Bev Brock, this is how Brocky ended their 28-year relationship just months before his death.

Says a lot about the man that so many Australians idolised as Peter Perfect, King of the Mountain.