It's no secret that one of the perks of the car writing gig is the ability to travel. Even with tight turnarounds on deadlines, cramped airplane cabins, and jetlag, hitting up a far-flung destination to drive a new vehicle is almost always a thrill.
For years, Dominick Infante, the director of communications at Subaru of America, has been the man to see when it comes to the most inventive car launch programs in some of the most spectacular locations around the globe. Infante and his team have fully bought in on the adventurous image projected by Subaru's rugged and often driver-focused products, and helped to display those capabilities everywhere from Patagonia to Iceland.
Add in that Infante is a connoisseur (and collector) of vintage vehicles, racing memorabilia, and memories, and he becomes the perfect subject for our latest installment of 5 Questions.
Which car was the most important to you when you were growing up?
"This is a tough one as I was obsessed with car magazines as a kid and I love all kinds of cars. My father said I was making car noises before I could speak. But the car that had the biggest impact on me, and the one that almost literally impacted me, would be a Jaguar E-Type. The first time I saw one was when I was about five years old and snuck away from a dinner at a friend of the family's house. I dragged my kid sister out to our car and was pretending to drive. I knocked the gear lever into neutral and the car rolled into the street. Screeching to a halt was a light blue E-Type that almost hit us. The owner was quite upset, as was my father. I just thought all the noise was cool. Looking back and knowing what I do about the brakes on old English cars, I am shocked he was able to stop in time. A Ferrari 512 BBi comes a close second."
You have a ticket to go anywhere in the world with any vehicle. What are you driving and where?
"Dream drive is tough as I have had the great fortune to drive some of the greatest roads and tracks in my career. Some standouts that I was lucky to be part of were driving the Tail of the Dragon in a Viper-powered Ram SRT-10 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 dipped below 100 mph), driving the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania (amazing switchbacks, vampires and questionable meat products), Iceland in a 90 mph snow storm (this also involved being hungover and watching Jonny Lieberman eat head cheese and eyeballs for breakfast), driving Suzuka in an STI was epic as it's a fantastic track, the stunning beauty of Patagonia mixed with seemingly constant lamb crucifixion, driving the Nurburgring in a rental diesel C-Class Benz wagon with snow tires (still counts as a lap!). But as this is a cost-no-option dream drive, and I am really into old classic cars, it would be hard to beat the Mille Miglia in a pontoon-fendered Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The V12 screaming through the Italian countryside would be amazing."
Tell us about a person, product, or company that we should be paying attention to in the next year?
"Well, this is tough as I am a paid spokesperson for Subaru of America. But, I would say to keep an eye on traditional automakers. We don't get quite as many headlines as all the new start-up electric car companies, but we are really good at manufacturing high-quality products and the auto industry is all about manufacturing efficiency. The industry is changing quickly and I understand that electric vehicles are less complex to build, but as we transition to 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 much detail as it is mainly future product launches and policy stuff that I work on. But, I do oversee the race team and we are prepping for a new Gymkhana video with Travis Pastrana and the guys from Hoonigan. We will be taking the newest Subaru Gymkhana car (an outrageous Frankenstein 1983 Subaru GL wagon built by Vermont Sports Car with almost 900 hp) to compete at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a few weeks. Travis came in second last year in an STI-based Gymkhana car, the Airslayer. New name to come soon."
What are three interesting items that can always be found on your desk?
"There is always a ton of junk on my desk as I am a pack rat. Numerous weird car models, magazines, etc. But, in no particular order, a model of Gilles Villeneuve's helmet (he was my favorite F1 driver when I was a kid), about five vintage car calendars (I love cars but also I am a word person, so I know the day but have no idea what the date is or what it will be next week. I need to see it on a calendar for it to stick) and a beautiful enamel 1960 Liege to Rome Rally badge that will hopefully be applied to my 1960 Austin Healey 3000, if I ever get around to painting it. The Healey works team won the rally that year in a 1960 Austin Healey 3000 driven by Pat Moss, Stirling Moss' sister."
Infante is pretty private on social media but you can keep up with the fruits of his work here on Motor1.com, simply by paying attention to Subaru news, First Drives, and reviews. And if you have an idea for the next 5 Questions subject (or that person is you), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.