Crew Chief Profiles: Costa Gialamas


4. Competition Questions

 - Why do you think there is a jump to V8s? Is it really as simple as the car becomes easier to drift or costs, or do you think it’s something else?

The trend towards V8 power plants in drifting started mainly because of cost, reliability and complexity issues.  There is a significant performance advantage as well.  The torque created at low rpm levels is much higher than a turbo 4 setup.  This allows a driver to be a little less committed with his throttle application as there is power on tap everywhere in the rpm range. This can be achieved with an I4 if it is highly developed and uses anti lag, but then you are back to the issue of cost and reliability. The current rules, the state of the economy and other factors dictate that we all have to lean out our programs wherever we can, and an expensive engine development program does not fit in most teams budgets.

After campaigning in a KA24DE with a turbocharger, Matt and GTI switched over to a LS7 V8.

– Do you think a that something has to be put in place besides tires to level the playing field? (Like Weight Restrictions, Power Restrictions, Engine Modification Restrictions, etc.) Or, do you feel like the “run what you brung” status of Formula Drift is perfect?

Personally, I’d like to see less restrictive rules in FD.  One of the things that struck me as really cool about the sport when I first got involved, is that there were so many different types of cars competing against each other with relative parity. I think the current cage rules endanger the drivers and add costs for the teams.  I would like to be able to support the chassis from shock tower to shock tower to keep the driver safe from intrusions and keep the suspension pickup points intact.  I would like to see more free suspension rules as well.  Currently, we are not allowed to move inboard suspension points.   This means that only the chassis that come from factory with good geometry or live axles can be competitive.  I would like to be able to build a custom sub frame that must mount to factory sub frame mounts utilizing the factory X and Y coordinates (in plan view) for the upper shock mounts. I think this would allow many more chassis to be competitive, lead to a better show because of quicker damage repair after an impact, and reduce overall costs for the teams while improving overall performance of the cars.

It’s these impacts and the dangers to the drivers that have Costa wanting more freedom on roll cage design. Rumor is that there will be more freedoms in the roll cage rules.

– What is your opinion of the V8 hate?

The hatred for V8s in drifting is based mostly in purist mentality.  The thought that these are Japanese cars, drifting started in Japan and therefore drift cars shouldn’t have anything besides a turbocharged Japanese engine. There are also those that dislike them because of the lack of technology involved with a naturally aspirated V8, but I can tell you that most of the top cars are running sophisticated engine management and data acquisition systems on engines that are highly modified.  I understand the hatred for V8s, however, I think it is misguided.  I build a race car as a tool for my driver to use to win.  The drivetrain is a part of that kit of tools, and the best tool for drifting at this point is a large displacement N/A V8.

– What made you start to build a LS-powered S14?

When Matt and I first started talking about plans for the build we had established power and torque goals that we wanted to meet.  Matt already had the chassis and would have to run it for at least one more year because of budgetary constraints.  So, we looked at some different engine options, and with the money we had to work with, the LS7 seemed the best choice.  The weight was one of the lowest of the different packages we looked at, the power and torque would meet our targets easily, packaging would be fairly simple and it met our goals for reliability and budget.

While the “Drift-Bible Thumpers” (BTW, thanks Bebop from for that word) may hate it, you really can’t deny Matt’s results. Costa Gialamas knows what he’s doing and their standings in points this year prove that!

– How has working with Matt Powers been?

Matt has been a great driver to work with. He is a rising star with all the talent needed to become a champion. I know that on any given day we can be competitive with the best teams and that is a big boost to the crew behind the scenes.  Matt’s feedback on the car’s setup is getting better every event also.  He is a very intelligent individual and he’s a fun person to be around as well.  I see a lot of potential for him going forward.  Watch out for him in 2012!!

Matt Powers
Matt Powers, Nitto Tires/Team Need for Speed rising star!

– Who are some of the competitors you look forward to facing?

I really enjoy the friendly rivalry we have with our Need for Speed team mate Frederic Aasbo though I’d rather see him in the finals than the early rounds like we have so far this year. Dai Yoshihara is another one I really want to battle because I work on Dai’s Z and Mike and I work together quite a bit.  I also like to face the ASD cars because I like to show how we can compete with about 1/8 of the budget they work with and 200-300 less horsepower.  Rhys Millen is another driver I really like to battle as he always just drives hard and clean, which is more than can be said for many drivers in the series, and I have worked with him quite a bit over the years.

Fredric VS Powers
Despite being teammates, Costa feels that the Aasbo and Powers battles can be some of the best, Costa just wishes they came later, like the finals!
However, it’s the battle against the faster Team Falken cars where Costa likes to shine in his Team Nitto Tire car!

– Who was the best tandem you’ve ever seen Matt run with? (Doesn’t even have to be current or with FD)

The best and most exciting runs I have seen were when Matt battled with Chris Forsberg in Long Beach. They both drove really aggressively the whole time and Matt Tapped Chris when he followed, the wheel got bent and the judges called OMT.  We swapped the tire and wheel out and they went to battle again. Matt laid down some awesome runs and tapped Chris again when he followed.  And, I like it even more because we moved on.

IMPACT! Matt VS Chris
IMPACT! Quite possibly the best battle of 2011, Chris Forsberg and Matt Powers, at least that’s how Costa feels!

– Who is responsible for keeping your car going?

At the track our lead mechanic is Tom Roberts. He has been around Matt’s program since the start and his experience has been beneficial to the team’s success.  Tommy Roberts is our spotter who also happens to drive.  He has drifted with Matt since they first started out and the time they have spent together has proved very valuable when spotting for Matt.  Nate Deck is our in-house media guru.  He does all of our filming, editing, coloring and producing. When the car is back at the shop I maintain it myself if I can.

Costa Gialamas
Costa Gialamas welding


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