Of all the races on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, none are closer to home for Brooklyn, New York native Anthony Imperato than last month’s doubleheader at Watkins Glen International.
However, Imperato considers next weekend’s pair of races at Road America a “second home race,” so to speak.
Imperato, who drives the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the Platinum Cup class, is supported by his family’s company, Henry Repeating Arms, which has its manufacturing headquarters in Rice Lake, Wis.
“It’s a home track for the company, not so much myself,” Imperato said. “That’s part of my life, so we consider it a ‘home track’ for us and the brand.
“We enjoy manufacturing in this state. We have some really great employees.
“We’ve been thanked here even at the track for manufacturing in the state, so it feels really good when people appreciate what you do.
“We have a lot of fans of the brand in this area and we’ve had a lot of great interactions with them here at the track. We love that. The brand thrives off of the customer, so it’s a great overall thing for us.”
In addition to its longstanding support of Imperato’s Porsche, the brand made some other racing headlines last week when it was announced as the sponsor of the No. 90 Chevrolet Camaro that IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular Andy Lally will drive in the upcoming NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America on Aug. 25, three weeks after both Imperato and Lally compete as part of the IMSA-sanctioned Continental Tire Road Race Showcase weekend at the same track.
“That’s really cool for us,” Imperato said. “Andy coached me when I was in Ferrari Challenge. I’ve always caught out of the corner of my eye his posts on Facebook and stuff looking for sponsorship. So, this year, we approached him and tried to put something together with the sponsorship of the track.
“I think it’s a great thing for us. We’re excited to see how he does. He’s a great driver and I think he’ll do a great job. It should be cool.”
Imperato will have had a considerable amount of track time at Road America even before the race weekend.
In June, he competed in the Pirelli World Challenge races at the track, and this week he was on track again testing the GT3 Cup car.
Last year, Imperato picked up his first GT3 Cup Challenge USA podium result at Road America, placing third at the track that was the continuation of a suspended race earlier in the season at Watkins Glen.
Since then, he added a career-best runner-up result last fall at Sonoma and has two podium finishes this year with third-place runs at Sebring and Mid-Ohio. He’s currently fifth in the Platinum Cup driver standings.
“I think we had more potential than that, but I had a couple of mistakes at Mid-Ohio in the second race,” Imperato said. “We also got unlucky at The Glen. In the second race, we had a puncture, so we lost a good bit of points there, but overall, I can’t complain. It’s a tough field.”
It’s that tough competition that keeps bringing Imperato back to race in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA. He’s still relatively early in his racing career, having competed in club racing and Ferrari Challenge prior to his GT3 Cup Challenge USA debut in 2016.
“I just started racing only about four years ago,” Imperato says. “Some of these kids have been in go-karts from a young age, so they obviously have a lot of talent. That’s why I’m here. I enjoy being around people like that because I feel like it will make me better, but it doesn’t come easy here.
“Everybody’s on it every session, trying to improve and get better. That’s the fun of this whole thing. That’s why I really enjoy it.”
He also enjoys the challenge of the iconic Porsche 911 race car and credits the one-make series with helping him continue to develop as a driver.
“I mean, the Cup car is not an easy car to drive,” he says. “It teaches you to try to be as consistent as possible. Pairing it with a team like Wright Motorsports, it’s just a great environment to be in and learn. I love Porsche as a brand and I love driving the car.
“I think IMSA and Yokohama do a great job putting the series together. It’s just a great place to be and learn, have fun and try to be competitive.”
Imperato’s primary goal over the remainder of the season is to reach that final, top step of the podium. Beyond that, the future is wide open.
“We’re not really so sure just yet,” he says of his future plans. “I would love to continue driving a Porsche somehow, whether it’s a Cup car or a GT3 car somewhere. I see us definitely continuing with Wright Motorsports.”