A make any difference of handle for Cyprus’ most thriving rally driver

From an 8-year-outdated joyrider to a operator of a vehicle museum, life for just one Limassol person has featured a lot more than motor motor vehicles as he is also a successful businessman. THEO PANAYIDES fulfills a person with a fearless streak in amongst the historic cars, unusual automobiles, novelty cars…

Dimis Mavropoulos – improved recognised as ‘Dimi’ in his London several years – sits in his place of work at the Cyprus Historic & Traditional Motor Museum in Limassol. He leans back in his chair, a stocky, majestic 71-year-old with a halo of snowy-white hair, the very first two buttons of his shirt undone for a contact of debonair brio. His smile is wide, his method expansive. He likes to phone people ‘darling’, making for a mildly surreal second when we’re interrupted by a contact from the mayor of Limassol: “Hello, mayor! Are you nicely, darling?”.

No surprise that the mayor and other community notables cellular phone Dimi on a normal foundation. Not only is he on the Limassol Tourism Board, he’s also amid the finest-recognised Limassolians in general he was even king of the carnival in 2013, an annual honour bestowed on the city’s favourite sons. (That was also the calendar year of the haircut which is why his royal title was ‘Mnimonios the Great’, ‘mnimonio’ staying Greek for ‘memorandum’.) He’s royalty in one more, unofficial feeling too, getting section of the vastly notable Lanitis spouse and children – his father’s uncle was the NP Lanitis – however the key cause for his renown has almost nothing to do with family members. Dimi, very simply just, is the most prosperous Cypriot rally driver of all time.

He’s received a lot more Cyprus championships than anybody else, nevertheless he received the Cyprus Rally – the sole global function in our championship – only when, in 1990, that being a unforgettable 12 months when he won all 7 occasions on the calendar, a feat unmatched just before or because. It was not only Cyprus, of training course living in London for 30 many years (1969-2000) he’s raced all in excess of the globe, 382 rallies in complete, but his document in Cyprus is particularly amazing – and even when he did not win, he arrived shut. He competed in the Cyprus Rally 30 periods, and concluded in the top rated three in 28 of them. “I am the finest finisher,” he declares with not a trace of untrue modesty.

Dimi does not seriously do modesty, untrue or normally. His title is emblazoned on the signal for his museum, in the design of those rapidly-food chains owned by American superstars – even though which is the place the metaphor finishes simply because the Motor Museum isn’t quick meals but a labour of love, a selection he’s amassed due to the fact his return to Limassol in the early 00s. It opened in 2014 with 48 automobiles, at a preceding area in Ypsonas that immediately proved inadequate it moved right here – ‘here’ getting a hangar-like space in Zakaki, on the city’s western outskirts – with 120 automobiles, and now has 224. It’ll soon be transferring all over again, to customized-crafted premises which will be about a few occasions more substantial and will also element “other additions” like a snooker corridor and a shooting gallery.

Meanwhile here we are, the wide place resembling a parking whole lot the place people have been parking their cars and trucks for 100 years and forgetting to decide them up. The oldest designs are replicas of the 1886 Benz (the initial car at any time created) and the 1912 Ford Design T the most latest include the previous Mini Cooper at any time to roll off the creation line in October 2001. There are novelty autos: Mr. Bean’s inexperienced Mini (a single of the real cars applied in the show), Margaret Thatcher’s Rover P5B, a bulletproof Cadillac Fleetwood weighing 4,500kg which was how Makarios favored to get all over. There are exceptional cars, like an Aston Martin Cygnet (1 of only 150 at any time made) or a Graham Paige from 1929 that took four decades to renovate. There are also regular cars, evoking their era with the unanticipated, piercing electric power of a piece of tunes.

I’m not significantly of a vehicle particular person, but it’s uncanny how the mere sight of a Ford Capri can unlock a bunch of 80s reminiscences (I couldn’t even have instructed you it was referred to as a Ford Capri), or how oddly moved I was to be reunited with the Citroen – the 2CV, it turns out – that would often remind my childhood self of an previous girl carrying pince-nez. What’s Dimi’s possess favourite vehicle? An not possible problem to ask of a collector – but the Audi Quatro, his racing vehicle for a lot of several years, could be a single contender. A different may be the Mini Moke, the 60s sports vehicle – much more of a glorified dune buggy – which he favored to drive for a lark in his London heyday, when he lived in Chelsea and dined in Mayfair. “I would be in a gorgeous fur coat,” he recalls, “in London, in a Mini Moke. And at Annabel’s, permit us say, which is the ideal special club. And when I came out it would be outdoors waiting for me, and all the Rolls-Royces would be parked here and there – for the reason that they ended up frequent. Mini Moke was not popular.”

profile3He must’ve reduce a dash, a bachelor for lots of a long time (you married late, I position out “Yes. I relished life”) and a rich businessman as properly as a racing driver. “Listen,” he describes with a recognizing chuckle as our job interview is winding down, “I’m not currently being pompous or everything like that, but I have accomplished a great deal in my lifetime. In all features. And a two-hour [interview] is not sufficient. We only picked up about two for every cent of my lifetime.”

At minimum we acquired most of the fantastic things – commencing with a single of his best stories, the unofficial start of his racing profession at the age of 8 when he started off driving his mother’s vehicle (with no permission, of study course). For the duration of a single of these jaunts, the diminutive driver was noticed by police, who purchased him to cease Dimi as an alternative drove off at velocity – a feat in by itself, presented that his toes scarcely reached the pedals – and led the cops on a car chase as a result of the streets of Limassol that included 3 police autos and lasted for almost four several hours (!) before he was apprehended. The cops were being inclined to make allowances, but Dimi’s father insisted that they toss the e book at him: “He reported ‘No, I do not want him residence. Just take him to court, punish him’… Then my mom employed to occur and carry me food in jail”. The boy was locked up for 4 times, an eternity to an eight-year-outdated somehow, the experience didn’t set him off reckless driving.

Is it seriously reckless, although? We’ll get to that in a moment – but initial let us target on his dad Stamatis, a instead stern figure who was born in Egypt, orphaned at an early age, then took refuge with his uncle in Limassol the place he set up the Lanitis farm in Fasouri, one particular of the most important in Cyprus. There is a photo of him in the museum, standing amongst a pair of Caterpillar tractors – the true tractors are among the the reveals, which involve other utility motor vehicles like a fireplace motor, a London bus and a Daimler Ferret tank – and his do the job ethic was seemingly intense, a behavior he instilled in his three small children.

Dad wouldn’t let them take days off, even to go on college excursions. On public holiday seasons, “I was driving a tractor cultivating our farms,” recollects Dimi. “My brother the same. My sister would go to the packing plant.” Dimi, the youngest by eight several years, was a rebel from way back again. “If you informed me ‘Don’t drink water’ I would go and drink two tons,” he explains by way of example. “I started smoking overtly from 12 several years old. I’d go to school and the lecturers made use of to arrive to me when they ran out of cigarettes.”

Did he and his father have a good relationship, though?

Pretty fantastic romantic relationship,” he replies instantly – then shrugs, unperturbed: “But I didn’t concur.”

It is a telling detail, and potentially a key to understanding Dimis Mavropoulos. Some may possibly be inclined to cry target, and experience resentment at possessing been oppressed as a little one Dimi, blessed with boundless self-belief and seemingly born with out panic, sees it only as a disagreement involving two solid figures – which is wonderful by him. He’s not fazed by disagreement, he just does what he wishes anyway. Note, for instance, that he’s extremely social, and has loads of friends, but “I have my possess – what I like, let us say. Probably what I like is not everybody’s kettle of fish. But really do not ignore I’m a individual who, if a little something comes into my mind, I will do it. And I’ll do it well.”

Uncomplicated to see how that individuality type would translate to a terrific rally driver. What is the mystery to being so prosperous? “In rallying, you are by itself,” he replies cryptically. “The secret is down to you, your co-driver, the motor vehicle and the components.” His fearless streak was a issue, so was his perfectionism so, certainly, was his stubbornness. Dimi phone calls my attention to a photograph on the wall (his business is a mini-museum in itself, packed with pictures, certificates and press clippings): the picture, from 1988, demonstrates a racing car going entire-tilt – it offers the impact of hovering about the highway – on what turns out, on closer inspection, to be a few wheels. “I went 42 kilometres with out a tyre,” he remembers. “And I arrived 2nd overall… I did not have time to change. If I’d altered, I would possibly have dropped down to third.”

Was that reckless driving? Rallying is reckless by definition, in that getting challenges is aspect of the activity: “I rolled numerous periods. If you really do not have incidents, you’re not speedy enough”. But recklessness indicates irresponsibility, whilst rallying is deeply dependable: the driver can take obligation for every little thing, and pushes himself to his limitations. “At the rally, you are by yourself,” repeats Dimi. “You have a device, and you generate that device to the greatest of your talents. And no-just one can say you drive protected,” he provides, producing it seem like an insult, “because then you are slow… You thrust a very little bit all the time. You are pushing by yourself to improve the limit of your talents.”

That frequent pushing doesn’t make for an easy-going character. He freely admits to not remaining uncomplicated to stay with, nor is he significantly excellent at compromise: “I am what I am, you like me or you really do not like me as I am”. His relationship – to a lady from an additional notable relatives, the entrepreneurs of the Grecian accommodations in Ayia Napa – only lasted eight several years, although it did generate 3 daughters, and he also has a fourth daughter with his present lover (all four ladies have resourceful, hard work – three are in media and clearly show business enterprise, the fourth owns a line of boutiques – owning most likely inherited their dad’s self-assurance). He’s dabbled in politics but – regardless of getting a effectively-recognized Limassolian – not much too successfully, which he blames on his bluntness and incapability to lie as necessary. “I have enemies. Mainly because, if I want to say or do some thing, I do it.”

I ask if he ever receives frustrated, and the solution is revealing. “Never! Hardly ever depressed… I never even know what melancholy is. And I’m not a great helper,” he admits, wanting a small abashed, “for someone who is depressed, due to the fact I do not comprehend.” Dimi shrugs, striving to articulate his views on the subject: “I may perhaps be sad. But, if I simply cannot transform one thing, lifestyle goes on”.

I suppose it will come again to his assurance, his absence of concern – his powerful perception of self, higher than all. People get depressed specifically mainly because they just can’t transform a thing, but Dimi has the assurance to get it in his stride. You could not get in touch with him selfish, after all he’s used a lot of the earlier handful of yrs boosting money for charity, primarily by organising basic-motor vehicle rallies (the Sunday right after our interview he’ll be handing out dollars to people who’ve misplaced another person to Covid-19). He’s like some benevolent monarch – creating him king of the carnival was all too acceptable – hunting right after his subjects with no ever getting rid of his regal composure.

1 more factor should really be mentioned, and which is manage. That is why rallying doesn’t depend as reckless driving, because it’s managed (getting rid of management could be deadly) – and Dimi too, irrespective of his flamboyant ‘darling’s and Mini Mokes, is a hugely controlled character. The apple of his eye is a yacht named the Perla Bianca which he likes to sail all over the Med, specially Monte Carlo I request if he at any time gambles there, and his reply is unequivocal. “Not. At. All. I am not a gambler, I am not a smoker and I am not a drinker. I’ve never ever been drunk in my life”. Of course, he used to race cars – but that was on the weekend, in the course of the 7 days he ran a profitable business as a fruit importer (he talks about packaging grapes as passionately as he does about rallying). Even now, he continues to be a shrewd businessman: yes, the museum is a labour of really like – but he always attempts to accumulate based mostly on how rare the vehicles are, and how their benefit is probably to take pleasure in. That way, “at minimum I feel my money is not wasted”.

Dimis Mavropoulos has in fact performed a large amount in his lifetime: father, racer, eight-yr-aged joyrider, male about city, entrepreneur and museum proprietor. There’s no quick system to make clear his achievements – but he did what he desired, and did it hard. He requires me on a tour of the Motor Museum, pointing out Volvos, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces (even a Trabant!) – then I make my way back again to the freeway, my head reeling with tales of Mayfair shindigs and narrow automotive escapes. Someday I’ll go again for the other 98 per cent.