Paolo Diana is the italian answer to Ken Block. Al Rallylegend signed more autographs than Americans drivers. People go crazy for Diana, all over the world. One of his videos has over 550 thousand views on YouTube, many others are above 100 thousand. At the Legend we witnessed scenes of genuine delirium for him.
We saw guys writing “Diana 31 – I want you racing” with markers all over my body, others who built their own 131 Racing model to get it autographed.
There were thousands of people wearing T-shirts, caps, glasses and stickers. Diana 31. At every step, the roar, people went mad for him.
But who is Paolo Diana? He is 43 years old, lives in Verucchio – in the Rimini hinterland – and is not a professional driver. It is an overwhelming sympathy and an unusual humility. He is loved as a pilot but also, above all, as a person. He did so much for Bryan Toccaceli by promoting important fundraisers and making him experience the thrill of car racing with him, at the last Rallylegend.
He probably doesn’t realize what he stands for rally enthusiasts.
Paolo, you are considered by all the Italian Ken Block. How do you live this status?
“I am very pleased, it is a compliment that excites me so much”.
Did you talk to Ken during the Rallylegend?
“For me it was already fantastic to see him. I asked him to take a picture together but I don’t know who he was. We did not speak. My dream is to do something with Ken Block, maybe a video, but I didn’t find the courage to ask him. I hope to have another opportunity and above all to have more nerve, the one I miss “.
You are two tightrope walkers of the steering wheel who set the crowds on fire with enthusiasm. So close but so far away. Why?
“I am a simple enthusiast who is stupid with the car. My passion is exclusively. I won a rally in San Marino and several times the class in the titled rallies in Italy and in the Clio trophy but I didn’t participate in the World Championship. I would never have the courage to go and knock at Red Bull or Monster Energy, to ask for sponsorship. Of course, if they looked for me, it would be different. Beyond that, Block had very different bases, from the beginning. I grew up in my garage”.
Your videos are very popular on social media and at the Legend it was full of people with “Diana 31” shirts.
“Everything started as a joke, about 10 years ago. Some of my friends made a dozen T-shirts and many asked him if they were for sale but they were just for them. The following years have always done a little more and the situation then got out of hand. Now I don’t know how many there are around, how many my fans are.
Many fans stop me for photos and autographs and not only Italians and Europeans but also from outside Europe and I don’t know how they know me. People write to me from all over the world, they love me and all this affection for me is something incredible. I am happy, amazed, incredulous”.
Sign more Biasion autographs but you are not a professional driver.
“Not at all. On Mondays, after races, I go back to work. I am a warehouseman in an auto parts company in Rimini. To go to rallies I take the holidays so I can’t do more than 5 or 6 a year, especially abroad. I have been to Spain, Hungary, Portugal … At first I went totally free while now I ask for a reimbursement of expenses because it is an expensive sport anyway and I do everything myself. In the evening I work at my car, in the garage”.
Your slogan is “I want you racing”.
“When I took my 131 it was totally road then I said” I want it racing “. I tried to fix it and make it a racing car. From there it all started ”.
Have you ever thought about changing cars for a more powerful car?
“Then for me it would be like putting on a tuxedo while I love being in overalls. I wouldn’t feel comfortable. I feel at one with the car. People recognize me because I’m the one who makes numbers with 131. I’d be curious to try a WRC but it would be just a whim. I have fun with the 131, I am faithful to my first love”.
Marianna Giannoni – Translation by Andrea Periccioli
Pic: Magda Tonini – Giovanni Pelliccioni