Anthony Lazzaro has put together a unique career that spans everything from sports cars to open-wheel and stock cars. After a hiatus of over two years, Lazzaro was back behind the wheel this year in both the Blancpain GT World Challenge America and Pirelli GT4 America series on a part time basis.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Lazzaro discusses his first experience in GT4 machinery at Las Vegas, why he had been out of racing for so long, and what keeps him coming back to the sport that has been his career for two decades.
What was your experience of driving a GT4 car in the GT4 America event at Las Vegas for Rearden Racing like?
“I hadn’t driven a GT4 car at all, and even back in the ST, GS days I had maybe done 10 races in 20 years in that type of cars. All of my experience had been in GT cars on up to IndyCar, NASCAR, prototypes, etc.
“It’s a lot of fun. I love the whole platform of GT3, GT4 production based cars from manufacturers that you can go out and buy. You don’t have to build them anymore.
“The racing is spectacular. The GT4 to me is like a perfect pro-am platform for amateurs to get started. They are fun cars to drive, very competitive, and a learning experience as well.”
How did the Mercedes-AMG GT4 compare to some of the other cars you’ve driven in your career?
“It’s just detuned quite a bit. Less power, there’s not much downforce. I think it puts a bit more into the driver’s hands. They are easy cars to drive, but also easy cars to over drive.
“From my background, I love downforce and a GT3 car these days pulls well over 2 Gs. But I’ve really enjoyed the GT4.”
What led to you getting back in the sports car paddock this year?
“Long story short, I haven’t been racing much in the past few years. Last year I got back involved with Risi, I’d been associated with them for a couple of years, and got into the GT3 car.
“The reason I didn’t go racing for a couple of years was strictly the FIA licensing malfunction. Basically the FIA made a mistake on my license.
“I had a two-year deal to go race a prototype with ESM and due to the license situation it didn’t happen, so I didn’t race for two and a half years.
“It’s good to be back. I’ve toured the paddock quite a bit this year just going to races and talking to people, and that’s how all of this came about.”
What was your schedule like in 2019?
“I did COTA with Risi in the 2017-spec Ferrari, the Road to Le Mans with Kessel Raicng, and then I did Watkins Glen with One11, a new team in GT3 in their Ferrari. I was supposed to be in GT America the full season but for various reasons it didn’t happen.
“Since my coaching is pretty slow this year it was a nice little break and I was able to spend my time and efforts going to see people at the races.”
Is this the start of a new career for you?
“I’ve had three careers! I had the late 20s to early 40s racing career, had another early 50s racing career, and now I’m 56 and a grandfather and hanging on by a thread.
“The thing is, I’m now a bronze and I have a passion for it. I’ve tried to quit before but I can’t. I just love it. It’s been my life for over 40 years.
“I’ve driven just about anything and everything over the years as well and can draw from that experience. I love this series. Hopefully I can find some things for next year as well.”