A subject of regulate for Cyprus’ most prosperous rally driver

From an eight-12 months-aged joyrider to a owner of a car or truck museum, everyday living for a single Limassol gentleman has highlighted far more than motor autos as he is also a profitable businessman. THEO PANAYIDES meets a gentleman with a fearless streak in among the historic autos, scarce vehicles, novelty cars…

Dimis Mavropoulos – improved recognized as ‘Dimi’ in his London years – sits in his business office at the Cyprus Historic & Classic Motor Museum in Limassol. He leans back in his chair, a stocky, majestic 71-12 months-outdated with a halo of snowy-white hair, the initial two buttons of his shirt undone for a contact of debonair brio. His smile is broad, his way expansive. He likes to call men and women ‘darling’, making for a mildly surreal second when we’re interrupted by a get in touch with from the mayor of Limassol: “Hello, mayor! Are you properly, darling?”.

No shock that the mayor and other community notables cellphone Dimi on a frequent basis. Not only is he on the Limassol Tourism Board, he’s also amongst the finest-known Limassolians in standard he was even king of the carnival in 2013, an yearly honour bestowed on the city’s favourite sons. (That was also the yr of the haircut which is why his royal name was ‘Mnimonios the Great’, ‘mnimonio’ staying Greek for ‘memorandum’.) He’s royalty in a further, unofficial feeling much too, remaining portion of the massively distinguished Lanitis spouse and children – his father’s uncle was the NP Lanitis – nonetheless the most important cause for his renown has nothing at all to do with household. Dimi, really simply just, is the most profitable Cypriot rally driver of all time.

profile2He’s won much more Cyprus championships than any person else, even though he received the Cyprus Rally – the sole international function in our championship – only once, in 1990, that being a unforgettable 12 months when he won all seven occasions on the calendar, a feat unmatched ahead of or due to the fact. It was not only Cyprus, of class residing in London for 30 several years (1969-2000) he’s raced all around the world, 382 rallies in whole, but his record in Cyprus is especially extraordinary – and even when he didn’t earn, he arrived shut. He competed in the Cyprus Rally 30 instances, and concluded in the top three in 28 of them. “I am the finest finisher,” he declares with not a hint of untrue modesty.

Dimi doesn’t truly do modesty, fake or normally. His title is emblazoned on the signal for his museum, in the design of all those speedy-food chains owned by American celebs – although that’s where by the metaphor finishes for the reason that the Motor Museum is not fast foodstuff but a labour of really like, a assortment he’s amassed considering the fact that his return to Limassol in the early 00s. It opened in 2014 with 48 autos, at a former location in Ypsonas that promptly proved inadequate it moved right here – ‘here’ being a hangar-like area in Zakaki, on the city’s western outskirts – with 120 vehicles, and now has 224. It’ll shortly be moving once more, to custom made-designed premises which will be about 3 situations bigger and will also aspect “other additions” like a snooker corridor and a taking pictures gallery.

Meanwhile below we are, the extensive room resembling a parking large amount the place people have been parking their cars for 100 several years and forgetting to decide on them up. The oldest products are replicas of the 1886 Benz (the initially vehicle at any time designed) and the 1912 Ford Model T the most modern incorporate the final Mini Cooper ever to roll off the production line in Oct 2001. There are novelty autos: Mr. Bean’s green Mini (a person of the genuine automobiles employed in the clearly show), Margaret Thatcher’s Rover P5B, a bulletproof Cadillac Fleetwood weighing 4,500kg which was how Makarios preferred to get around. There are scarce autos, like an Aston Martin Cygnet (just one of only 150 at any time built) or a Graham Paige from 1929 that took 4 a long time to renovate. There are also common automobiles, evoking their era with the unanticipated, piercing ability of a piece of music.

I’m not substantially of a automobile man or woman, but it is uncanny how the mere sight of a Ford Capri can unlock a bunch of 80s recollections (I couldn’t even have instructed you it was known 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 woman sporting pince-nez. What’s Dimi’s personal favorite car or truck? An extremely hard issue to check with of a collector – but the Audi Quatro, his racing auto for quite a few many years, might be one particular contender. Yet another may be the Mini Moke, the 60s sporting activities auto – additional of a glorified dune buggy – which he liked to generate for a lark in his London heyday, when he lived in Chelsea and dined in Mayfair. “I would be in a beautiful fur coat,” he recollects, “in London, in a Mini Moke. And at Annabel’s, let us say, which is the best special club. And when I came out it would be outside ready for me, and all the Rolls-Royces would be parked below and there – since they were widespread. Mini Moke was not frequent.”

profile3He must’ve lower a sprint, a bachelor for numerous decades (you married late, I point out “Yes. I savored life”) and a rich businessman as very well as a racing driver. “Listen,” he points out with a figuring out chuckle as our job interview is winding down, “I’m not being pompous or nearly anything like that, but I have completed a ton in my lifestyle. In all features. And a two-hour [interview] is not enough. We only picked up about two for every cent of my life.”

At the very least we acquired most of the great stuff – setting up with a person of his finest tales, the unofficial start of his racing occupation at the age of eight when he begun driving his mother’s vehicle (without permission, of study course). During one of these jaunts, the diminutive driver was spotted by police, who purchased him to halt Dimi rather drove off at velocity – a feat in alone, offered that his feet scarcely arrived at the pedals – and led the cops on a auto chase by means of the streets of Limassol that included a few law enforcement autos and lasted for virtually four hrs (!) right before he was apprehended. The cops were being inclined to make allowances, but Dimi’s dad insisted that they toss the e-book at him: “He explained ‘No, I never want him home. Just take him to court, punish him’… Then my mother applied to occur and carry me food in jail”. The boy was locked up for 4 times, an eternity to an 8-yr-outdated somehow, the practical experience did not put him off reckless driving.

Is it really reckless, though? We’ll get to that in a moment – but very first let us emphasis on his father Stamatis, a relatively stern figure who was born in Egypt, orphaned at an early age, then took refuge with his uncle in Limassol where by he set up the Lanitis farm in Fasouri, a person of the most important in Cyprus. There is a picture of him in the museum, standing concerning a pair of Caterpillar tractors – the genuine tractors are amongst the exhibits, which incorporate other utility vehicles like a fire motor, a London bus and a Daimler Ferret tank – and his do the job ethic was evidently intense, a habit he instilled in his a few small children.

Father would not permit them consider days off, even to go on college trips. On general public holidays, “I was driving a tractor cultivating our farms,” remembers Dimi. “My brother the exact. My sister would go to the packing plant.” Dimi, the youngest by 8 a long time, was a rebel from way back. “If you instructed me ‘Don’t drink water’ I would go and drink two tons,” he points out by way of case in point. “I began using tobacco brazenly from 12 yrs old. I’d go to university and the teachers used to come to me when they ran out of cigarettes.”

Did he and his father have a excellent romance, nevertheless?

Quite excellent relationship,” he replies quickly – then shrugs, unperturbed: “But I didn’t concur.”

It’s a telling depth, and maybe a key to being familiar with Dimis Mavropoulos. Some might be inclined to cry victim, and sense resentment at having been oppressed as a boy or girl Dimi, blessed with boundless self-belief and seemingly born with out anxiety, sees it only as a disagreement among two robust characters – which is wonderful by him. He’s not fazed by disagreement, he just does what he wishes in any case. Take note, for occasion, that he’s incredibly social, and has a lot of pals, but “I have my possess – what I like, let us say. It’s possible what I like is not everybody’s kettle of fish. But really don’t ignore I’m a individual who, if one thing will come into my head, I will do it. And I’ll do it effectively.”

Simple to see how that identity form would translate to a fantastic rally driver. What is the secret to currently being so profitable? “In rallying, you are alone,” he replies cryptically. “The solution is down to you, your co-driver, the auto and the components.” His fearless streak was a variable, so was his perfectionism so, certainly, was his stubbornness. Dimi phone calls my interest to a image on the wall (his place of work is a mini-museum in itself, packed with pictures, certificates and push clippings): the photograph, from 1988, shows a racing car or truck going entire-tilt – it presents the effect of hovering around the street – on what turns out, on nearer inspection, to be three wheels. “I went 42 kilometres without having a tyre,” he recalls. “And I came 2nd overall… I didn’t have time to modify. If I’d adjusted, I would probably have dropped down to 3rd.”

Was that reckless driving? Rallying is reckless by definition, in that taking threats is portion of the sport: “I rolled lots of periods. If you don’t have accidents, you’re not quickly enough”. But recklessness indicates irresponsibility, while rallying is deeply liable: the driver can take responsibility for anything, and pushes himself to his limitations. “At the rally, you’re by itself,” repeats Dimi. “You have a equipment, and you generate that equipment to the most of your abilities. And no-one particular can say you push safe and sound,” he provides, building it sound like an insult, “because then you’re slow… You force a very little bit all the time. You are pushing you to raise the limit of your capabilities.”

That continual pushing does not make for an simple-likely identity. He freely admits to not being easy to dwell with, nor is he a lot very good at compromise: “I am what I am, you like me or you really do not like me as I am”. His relationship – to a girl from yet another notable family, the owners of the Grecian inns in Ayia Napa – only lasted eight several years, while it did deliver 3 daughters, and he also has a fourth daughter with his existing lover (all 4 girls have resourceful, hard work – 3 are in media and display small business, the fourth owns a line of boutiques – obtaining maybe inherited their dad’s self-assurance). He’s dabbled in politics but – irrespective of staying a properly-known Limassolian – not too properly, which he blames on his bluntness and incapacity to lie as demanded. “I have enemies. Because, if I want to say or do some thing, I do it.”

I request if he ever receives depressed, and the respond to is revealing. “Never! In no way depressed… I do not even know what depression is. And I’m not a very good helper,” he admits, hunting a small abashed, “for somebody who is depressed, because I really don’t comprehend.” Dimi shrugs, attempting to articulate his views on the subject matter: “I may be sad. But, if I simply cannot modify anything, everyday living goes on”.

I believe it arrives back to his assurance, his absence of concern – his robust perception of self, above all. Individuals get frustrated exactly because they just cannot adjust one thing, but Dimi has the assurance to consider it in his stride. You couldn’t simply call him egocentric, right after all he’s invested a lot of the previous number of a long time increasing dollars for charity, typically by organising traditional-motor vehicle rallies (the Sunday right after our job interview he’ll be handing out money to people who’ve lost an individual to Covid-19). He’s like some benevolent monarch – making him king of the carnival was all far too ideal – looking following his subjects without having at any time shedding his regal composure.

A single additional thing ought to be stated, and which is command. That is why rallying does not depend as reckless driving, because it’s controlled (losing handle could be fatal) – and Dimi also, regardless of his flamboyant ‘darling’s and Mini Mokes, is a really managed character. The apple of his eye is a yacht named the Perla Bianca which he likes to sail all-around the Med, especially Monte Carlo I check with if he ever 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 in no way been drunk in my life”. Certainly, he employed to race autos – but that was on the weekend, through the week he ran a productive small 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 like – but he often attempts to gather dependent on how uncommon the automobiles are, and how their worth is probably to take pleasure in. That way, “at the very least I truly feel my cash is not wasted”.

Dimis Mavropoulos has without a doubt carried out a good deal in his lifetime: father, racer, 8-calendar year-aged joyrider, male about city, entrepreneur and museum operator. There is no uncomplicated components to clarify his success – but he did what he wanted, and did it tricky. He can take me on a tour of the Motor Museum, pointing out Volvos, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces (even a Trabant!) – then I make my way back to the highway, my intellect reeling with tales of Mayfair shindigs and narrow automotive escapes. Someday I’ll go back for the other 98 for each cent.