It’s no secret that one of the perks of the automotive writing gig is the ability to travel. Even with tight deadlines, cramped airplane cabins and jet lag, reaching a distant destination to drive a new vehicle is almost always a pleasure.
For years, Dominick Infante, director of communications at Subaru of America, has been the go-to guy when it comes to the most inventive car launch programs in some of the world’s most spectacular locations. Infante and his team fully embraced the adventurous image projected by Subaru’s rugged and often driver-focused products, and helped flaunt those capabilities everywhere from Patagonia to Iceland.
Add to that that Infante is a connoisseur (and collector) of vintage vehicles, racing memorabilia, and memorabilia, and he becomes the perfect subject for our final 5-question episode.
What car was the most important to you when you were growing up?
“That’s a tough question because I was obsessed with car magazines as a kid and love all kinds of cars. My dad said I made car noises before I could talk. But the car that impacted me the most, and the one that almost literally hit me, would be a Jaguar E-Type. The first time I saw one was when I was about five years old and I escaped from a dinner party at a family friend’s house. our car and pretended to drive. I put the gear lever in neutral and the car rolled down the street. A light blue E-Type drove up. stopped screaming and almost ran into us. The owner was very upset as was my dad. I just thought all the noise was cool. Looking back and knowing what I do brakes on old English cars, I’m shocked he was able to stop in time. A Ferrari 512 BBi is just behind.”
You have a ticket to go anywhere in the world with any vehicle. What and where are you driving?
“Dream driving is tough because I’ve had the great fortune to drive some of the most beautiful roads and tracks of my career. I’ve been lucky enough to be among some of the stars I’ve been lucky enough to drive tail of the dragon in a Viper-10 powered Ram SRT truck, chasing Mark Higgins in a right hand drive STI on the Isle of Man TT course (it was terrifying as I had no idea where I was going and we rarely went below 100 mph), driving the Transfagarasan highway in Romania (incredible switchbacks, vampires and dodgy meat products), Iceland in a 90 mph snowstorm (this also involved having the hangover of wood and watching Jonny Lieberman eat head cheese and eyeballs for breakfast), driving Suzuka in an IST was epic because it’s a fantastic track, the stunning beauty of Patagonia mixed with a crucifixion of seemingly constant lamb, leading the Nurb urgring in a Benz C-Class diesel rental wagon with snow tires (still counts as a lap!). But since this is a dream ride with no options, and I’m really into old classic cars, it would be hard to beat the Mille Miglia in a pontoon Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The V12 screaming through the Italian countryside would be amazing.”
Tell us about a person, product or company we should pay attention to next year?
“Well, it’s tough because I’m a paid spokesperson for Subaru of America. But, I would say keep an eye on the traditional automakers. We don’t get as many headlines as all the new companies in starter electric cars but we are really good at making high quality products and the automotive industry is all about manufacturing efficiency the industry is changing rapidly and I understand electric vehicles are less complex to build, but as we go electric, we will have a distribution and manufacturing edge.”
What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
“I can’t really go into detail as I’m mostly working on future product launches and policies. But I’m overseeing the race team and we’re preparing a new Gymkhana video with Travis Pastrana and the Hoonigan guys. We’ll take the newest Subaru Gymkhana car (an outrageous Frankenstein 1983 Subaru GL station wagon built by Vermont Sports Car with almost 900 hp) to compete in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a few weeks Travis came second last year in an STI – the Gymkhana-based car, the Airslayer. New name coming soon.”
What are the three interesting objects that can always be found on your desk?
“There’s always a ton of junk on my desk because I’m a pack rat. Lots of weird model cars, magazines, etc. But, in no particular order, a helmet model by Gilles Villeneuve ( he was my favorite F1 driver when I was a kid), about five vintage car calendars (I love cars but I’m also a word person so I know the day but have no idea the date or what it will be next week I need to see it on a calendar for it to stick) and a beautiful enamel badge from the 1960 Liege to Rome Rally which will hopefully be applied to my 1960 Austin Healey 3000, if I ever manage to paint it. The factory Healey team won the rally that year in a 1960 Austin Healey 3000 driven by Pat Moss, sister of Stirling Moss.”
Infante is pretty private on social media, but you can follow the fruits of his labor here at Motor1.com, just by paying attention to Subaru news, first drives and reviews. And if you have an idea for the next 5 question topic (or that person is you), write to us at [email protected]