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Local teen set to take NASCAR by storm

Next up: NASCAR Cup Series pro

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John and Stacey Bromante’s Locust Valley home has a fountain and koi pond in front, and a large pool and half a basketball court in the backyard. What really sets it apart, though, is its basement, which goes well beyond storage space, playroom or man cave. It is decorated with hundreds of trophies and medals brought home by the Bromantes’ 16-year-old son Giovanni, and his personalized NASCAR race simulator.

Giovanni trains on the simulator, which has helped him prepare for a career in racing, which he is set to begin full time in February, now that he has officially signed with the Visconti Motorsports NASCAR team. It is a goal he has been working toward for years.

Born on Aug. 9, 2003, Giovanni was introduced to the world of racing at age 5, when his grandfather, car enthusiast Don Ronaldo, took him to the Nassau Coliseum for a kids’ go-kart race. Stacey said that her son had already become an enthusiastic go-kart and dirt bike rider, so a race seemed like the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his skills. His family turned out to be right: He won it. Racing was in Giovanni’s future.

He has spent much of the past decade either on the road or the racetrack, traveling across the country to one go-kart race or another. It made for a rather unorthodox childhood, and Giovanni said he never had any friends aside from his father, the owner of Bromante Landscape Design in Sea Cliff, who traveled with him nearly everywhere, and his fellow racers. While his sister, Gianna, and brother, Gianni, attended Locust Valley schools, Giovanni has been home-schooled by tutors. It has been worth it, he said, because he has been able to work toward his dream.

John explained that his relationship with Giovanni was different from that of most fathers and sons, because Giovanni has been racing 42 weekends a year, traveling constantly, since he was 6. Thanks to the help of dedicated workers at his landscaping company, he was able to accompany his son on those trips. He described their relationship as a close friendship.

“I became a race dad rather than his real father,” John said. “I had to make sure that he was taken care of at the track, that he was eating properly, that he was waking up, that he was doing his exercising, so we had a very different relationship as a father [and] son.”

Giovanni’s travels on the national go-kart circuit were funded mostly by his parents. The financial burden grew much lighter once the sponsorships started rolling in.

Bromante made his biggest career leap in 2016, when he won the Bojangles Summer Shootout, a legends car race — for small cars made in the style of 1930s and ’40s automobiles — on a quarter-mile oval track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. In 2017 he was offered a spot on the David Gillaland Racing team, and drove in 12 races for the team throughout the southern U.S. until the end of the year. Last year he switched teams, and began driving for Anthony Campi Racing.

Perhaps Giovanni’s most significant victory came in March, when, at age 15, he won the Rattler 250 at the South Alabama Speedway in Kinston, Ala. for “super late model” cars — and a cash prize of $10,000. While many of his races up to that point were against people his age, in Kinston he beat drivers in their 30s, 40s and 50s. The victory attracted the attention of Visconti Motorsports, which signed Giovanni to a contract beginning next February.

“I felt like it was a relief, because I didn’t know what I was doing next year,” he said. “I could have done another season of super late model, but everything just lined up perfectly, and I just felt a relief that I’m going to be racing, and I’m going to be moving up next year and just a step closer to my goal.”

Giovanni is now on the cusp of that goal, which is to join the NASCAR Cup Series and step up to Generation 6 stock cars, modern NASCAR’s most common model. The only thing holding him back is his age: Drivers need to be 18 to race on superspeedways, tracks that are 2 miles or larger. Once he gets there, though, he wants to make sure people know that he is something special.

“I want to stick out,” Giovanni said. “I don’t want to be the normal NASCAR driver. I want to be the Giovanni Bromante — I want to be my own self in NASCAR.”

Stacey said it was Giovanni’s intense love for racing that made her confident in his atypical course through childhood. “I saw the passion in his eyes when he raced, that he meant business and what he did, he did it well,” she said. “He just had . . . a love for the sport, and he was winning.”

She also said she could not be more proud of him, and knows that where he is now is exactly where he needs to be on the path to fulfilling his dream.

“This is a beautiful progression for greatness,” Stacey said. “. . . We push him, and he pushes himself.”

As different as his life has been from those of others his age, there are still some things Giovanni needs to do, like every other teen. He went to his first driver’s ed class after his interview with the Herald Gazette, since he can’t legally take his stylish 1979 Chevy Camaro or huge Ford F-250 pickup truck on the street just yet. He said he would make sure to tell his instructor that he’s not exactly like every other kid, although he would resist the urge to do anything too crazy behind the wheel.