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"The Record Braker"
Nabil Karam
"The Record Breaker"
9th  of March 2010

"The Record Breaker" - Nabil "Billy" Karam

Nabil 'Billy' Karam

 

Speaking to Mr. Karam, you get the impression that his life is full of surprises, of enjoyment, and passion for what he has done and continues to do. He has been living out his dreams, which is a good foundation for an exuberant and infectious love of life.

 

BatoAutoMoto went to meet Nabil "Billy" Karam at the site of his museum in Zouk, which consists of hall after hall full of delights: from an exhibit of winning Rally racing cars, to over 22,222 miniature cars of all makes, styles, and levels of seriousness. There is an entire cupboard dedicated not only just about every make of car possible, but also more playful themes such as Tintin, and Asterix and Obelix. Beyond cars, Billy has also collected all kinds of miniature motorcyles, boats, helicopters and planes, which are interspersed with imaginative dioramas commemorating interesting events, and giving shape to Billy's memories and places of interest.

In the end of 2009, Billy Karam was found to have the Guinness World Record for the highest number of collected model cars in the world. Readers would be surprised to know that he seriously began collecting over 22,222 pieces just several years ago, in 2001. There is no repetition in the collection, down to the figures and even the smallest model cars.

 

The inspiration for this collection could come from an event in Karam's childhood, when his family's house was robbed, and his toy collection was among the stolen goods. Childhood memories certainly have effects on us later in life, but Karam has surely made up for his loss!

 

Billy Karam is passionate about creating dioramas, and from visiting his museum, one could imagine that he spends most of his time doing just that. However, Mr. Karam also works full time with his family's company, a wood importing business. As his family's business is in wood, he grew up carving wood, and this kind of raw creativity stayed with him throughout his life. The dioramas take many hours to complete, as Karam looks at a photograph (for example, of him racing with the car on two wheels) and recreates it down to the detail of bystanders positions and clothing and hair color.  "You see this picture, with my car on two wheels, and people applauding, - this is a mistake that I always do, you lose one second. It is very beautiful, but you go a bit more and you can roll over."

There are countless dioramas for scenes from Karam's racing career, from Lebanon's historical events, and many more. "Whatever happened and influenced my life, is here." There is even a diorama about the film 'Black Hawk Down', which Karam built after he received a Black hawk helicopter. He started making the dioramas around ten years ago, but it was during the 2006 war that he spent more time on the fast-growing project. The dioramas take you into his inner world, to the point that you forget that he is also active in his family's business. "I live in two worlds, everyday I live my passion; life is so short." Other memorable dioramas include

 

Billy Karam majored in business administration, as opposed to the engineering track he wished to pursue. "I wanted to do engineering, but my father told me: "You can always pay someone to engineer something for you, but you can never hire someone to run your company exactly the way you would like."

 

Karam began Rally racing at the age of 31, which is late in the world of race car driving. However, he became a champion almost directly afterwards, at the age of 33 or 34, giving him many years to perfect the art and become famous throughout the world. Karam's family avoided giving him financial support to race, so when he could manage it on his own, he entered the racing scene. He himself would not wish his children to race, because of the dangers involved. Therefore, he understands his family's hesitations. Karam is also the President of the Porche Club in Lebanon, and one of his accomplishments is organizing the biggest Porsche meeting in the Middle East for this group, at Edde Sands in Byblos. This is just another demonstration of his dedication to his passion for fine cars. Speaking of fine cars, Karam had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car once, which was one of his lifelong goals. If he has started racing earlier, he would have loved to pursue racing within Formula 1. "I tried to set it up in Lebanon once, but unfortunately the country is not ready for it yet."

 

Billy Karam's office within the museum is an amazing room devoted to his passion. The table is held up by original Porsche tires, and the chair is an actual Porsche car seat. This kind of whimsical imagination seems to be present in everything that he does. As he said himself, "I don't want to grow up!" After spending a couple of hours with him and getting a feel for his lifestyle, it seems to be a healthy and rewarding philosophy!  In terms of Billy Karam's future goals, he has many, but focuses on those which he is able to complete. He also has several races in mind that he would love to compete in, including a hill climb race in the United States: the Pike's Peak race. In all endeavors, we wish Billy Karam the best of luck.

       
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