Crew Chief Profiles: Costa Gialamas


Costa Gialamas
Costa having fun at Las Vegas.

3. Questions

 - When was the first year you started building cars?

I started building cars seriously in 1998 when I went to work for Rod Millen Special Vehicles/Engineering.  They are a medium sized Defense/Motorsports/Entertainment, Engineering and Fabrication firm.  I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn the right way to do things at the start, rather than having to re-learn the right way later.

 - What or who influenced you to start building cars?

The biggest influence for me to start building cars was necessity.  I have always wanted to race, but growing up I didn’t have the backing or resources to get into a racing car, and I needed a job.  That was kind of the main push that got me into race cars.  I really wanted to be involved, I could build the cars to earn a living, and build myself some to play with at the same time.  I knew this was the easiest way to be around race cars… until I work my way into the driver seat anyways. 
 - Where did you learn to work on cars? Family or a Technical School?

I started tinkering in the garage when I was pretty young. I started playing with dirt bikes around age 12. When I was about 15, I got a job at the local jet ski dealership where I worked on the race skis we would campaign, and in high school I took an auto shop class.  Our teacher, Bob McCarrol, was great. He taught us about electronic systems and made sure we knew this area well as this was the future of the industry.  We were also involved in a troubleshooting contest that took us all the way to New York City for the national finals.  After high school I was taking classes at the local J.C. trying to get my general ed credits out of the way when I got the opportunity to go work at Rod Millen Motorsports where I learned the right ways to do just about everything.  These experiences, along with my constant need to learn, is where my skill set comes from. 

 - What was your first drift car build?

The first drift car I was involved with was Rhys Millen’s Pontiac Solstice.

The RMR Pontiac Solstice
The first drift car Costa had a hand in, the Rhys Millen Racing Pontiac Solstice!

– Was your first thoughts on drifting? What made you become more involved?

I didn’t know very much about competitive drifting when I got involved. I had done plenty of power slides in cars before, but didn’t really know what to expect at this level. When I first saw pro drifting, even back then, I was amazed at the level of commitment it took to win.     

 - When and where was your first Professional drifting competition?

The first professional drift competition I was involved with was also my first drift comp in general. It was the D1 World championship in 2006 at Irwindale. I had never tuned a drift car and I didn’t fully understand the dynamics of what is going on during a drift run yet.   

 - Did your car do well, as well as you expected, or not as well as you could have?

The car did pretty well.  It was a fairly new car that was not developed yet and I had never tuned a drift car, so I didn’t expect that much.  I think we got knocked out in top 16 by Nobushige Kumakubo. 

 - What made you want to be a car builder rather than just an automotive technician or even a driver? Have you ever wanted to drive?

I have done a bit of driving and I will drive anything that I can get my hands on. However, I knew that it’s very difficult to get into a good seat without first having experience or money and I had neither.  The only way I could see that I could get some experience was to build myself a car to race. I started the process of learning how, and during that time I realized that I was actually pretty good. I thought I’d be more of an asset to a team behind the wrenches rather than the steering wheel. It is also a more stable income source than driving for a living, so that played a part in the choice as well.  When it comes to cars, simply repairing them and replacing bad components is not very exciting to me at all.  I am much more interested in creating something and that is one aspect that I really enjoy about building race cars.  You start with material on the racks that gets cut, bent, fit, welded and coated, then you mount all the parts onboard and start it up.  Not long after, you can see those pieces of material hurtling around a track, or through the desert or woods being tuned for the utmost performance. That is always really rewarding to see.

Costa Gialamas
Costa doing what he does best, building a car!

– What other cars have you built?

Other cars I have been involved with are; Rhys Millen’s Solstice, Genesis, and the GTO to a small degree. I’ve done quite a bit of work on Stephan Verdier’s  Subaru, Cody Parkhouse’s VQ powered S13, Matt Powers’ S14, Dai Yoshihara’s 350Z, a few other drift S14’s, Stan Dye’s 370Z road race car.   Stephan Verdier’s Rallycross car, Rod Millen’s CORR Tundra Pro4 race truck, Baldwin Motorsports’ Trophy Truck, Rhys Millen’s factory Mitsubishi EVOs for SCCA ProRally, Hunter Motorsports’ Class 10 desert race car, GTI’s Class 5 desert car, many cars for Wide Open Baja, Show cars for Scion, Toyota, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Model E, Jeep, and others. Also, many cars for movies, TV shows, private customers, and the US government.

Dai's Abu Dabi car
From Stephane’s Rallycross Subaru, to Dai’s Abu Dhabi 350Z, to Cody’s VQ-powered S13, GTI, LLC and Costa have been building some of the most varied cars and truck in the industry!


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