Who’s Who in Nasa: Jim “Coz” Cozzolino

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 Full Name: Jim “Coz” Cozzolino
Where is your Hometown? Peoria, AZ
How long have you lived in AZ? 14 Years, this time 🙂
Favorite Food(s): Italian
Favorite Music: Oldies
Occupation: Specialty Automotive Restorations and Modifications
NASA Position / Run Group: Official, HPDE Instructor and Asst. Group Leader.

 

 

            Jim “Coz” Cozzolino the most interesting man in NASA AZ!! Jim was born in Michigan but grew up in sunny California. When he turned 14 he attended Jack Martin Jockey School to become a professional Jockey. While attending the school he got drafted by the Army but decided to join the United States Marine Corps instead. During his four years he served two tours in Vietnam as a Tunnel Demolitions Expert aka a “Tunnel Rat”. After serving his time in the Marines, Jim went back to horse racing and traveling across the United States and Canada as a professional Jockey horse-racingfor the next 14 years. After retiring from horse racing in 1985, Jim started a career in Hotel and Convention Center Management. Since then Jim has started up his own company Coz Productions and has managed several major resorts, convention centers and produced over 400 concerts and events. Jim has also golfed on the Pepsi Golf Tour in the scratch division winning 4 events in 1999 & 2000. He also holds a Gold Medal for singles and a Silver Metal in doubles in the Senior Olympics while bowling in the Professional Bowlers Association.

           Jim has been a car nut all his life starting with his first car when he was 14, a 1959 TR-3 and from there it took off. He has owned many different cars ranging from Porsches, Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, DeTomaso Pantera’s and NSX’s. Jim started his racing career in the 70’s with SCCA and then progressed to the Formula Ford’s, Super Vee’s and then finally the 2000 series. But just recently, only 2 years ago, Jim decided to hit the track again with NASA. Today Jim is a Certified Instructor and runs his NSX in Time Trail TT-U. Jim not only enjoys running with NASA as a driver, regardless of how he finishes, but also being able to teach new students to drive and watching them progress through the ranks.

          

familyJim is a big family man and has been married to his wife “Elaine” for 32 years. Jim said “She has been with me through the thick & thin, all the ups and downs, all the cars, and she has been by my side, forever faithful, understanding, and loving.” They have four children: Ryan, Eric, Kelsey, Kyle, along with their family zoo of a dog, three cats, a turtle, a rat and a Blue & Gold Macaw. His family members are big supporters of his racing addiction and are always there to help him out in any way they can to ensure he makes the next race.

      So the next time you see Jim running around the pits at a NASA AZ Event be sure to stop by and say ‘Hi’.bird

Who’s Who in NASA: Phil & Jesse Robles

Full Name: Philip Rosend Robles…Phil
Where is your Hometown? Tempe, Arizona
How long have you lived in AZ? 19 years
Favorite Food(s): Helen’s Mexican food..of course!
Favorite Music: Whatever I select in Pandora…Top Secret
Occupation: Defense Contract Management Agency / Quality Assurance Specialist on the Boeing Longbow Apache AH-64 program.
Run Group: Time Trials and Time Attack

Full Name: Jesse Cade Robles
Where is your Hometown? Tempe, Arizona
How long have you lived in AZ? 19 years
Favorite Food(s): My mom’s Mexican food!
Favorite Music: too eclectic to list
Occupation: I tend bar at Rula Bula Irish Pub
                                                                                                         Run Group: HPDE 4 and Time Attack TA-B

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          Phil was born in Swindon, England and grew up in a military family stationed all over Europe.  Phil then joined the Air Force as an F-15 aircraft mechanic.  His career in the Air Force took him and his family to Iceland and Okinawa, Japan, among other assignments.  Japan was definitely the family’s favorite assignment. After a 6-year tour in Japan the Robles family was transferred to Luke AFB, AZ where Phil retired from the military. Phil now works for the Government as a QA Specialist on the Boeing Longbow Apache AH-64 program.

          In 2007 Phil made the transition from being a motorsports enthusiast to actually driving on track at a NASA AZ Phoenix International Raceway event. Phil progressed though the HPDE ranks and up to Time Trials and the UMS Tuning Time Attack series.  In 2009 Phil won overall in TT-B and the UMS Tuning Time Attack series, and repeated his TA overall win in 2011.

          Phil enjoys driving with NASA because of the well-structured organization that, “allows you to go as far as you want to fulfill your motorsports addiction.” Phil doesn’t plan on slowing down one bit.  In fact, he plans on fulfilling his motorsports addiction by continuing to improve his car and driving skills.

          Phil enjoys the racing scene so much that he makes it a family affair.  Phil’s son, Jesse has always enjoyed cars but never really got into racing until he made the trip with his Dad to a NASA AZ Inde Motorsports Ranch event in 2011. Phil let Jesse drive his car out on track and ever since then Jesse was hooked on driving, starting the Father/Son duo.

          Jesse was born in Tucson, AZ, but as an Air Force dependant Jesse got to move around and live in different places. While the Robles family was stationed in Japan, Jesse learned to drive in his Dad’s Mini Cooper.  Jesse later would hit the streets of Japan to participate or watch the local drift shows. Jesse and his friend Ross Petty (who is now a pro drifter) used to drift Ross’ mom’s van around for fun. After moving back to the States, Jesse started racing bicycles and now holds a USAC Category 2 license. Jesse has won several of Arizona’s major cycling races, including the 84 mile El Tour de Tucson (twice!), and the Valley of the Sun stage race.  Cycling is also a sport Phil and Jesse share–Phil was on a military cycling team in Okinawa and also ran for the Air Force in marathons in Iceland and Japan.  

           After getting bitten by the racing bug Jesse started his quick rise though the HPDE ranks.  Jesse first drove his current car (which he borrowed from Nolan to compete in Time Attack) at the Firebird West event.  He won 1st place at the event in TA-B, and it was the first time he had driven the car!  Jesse later purchased the car from Nolan to become his dedicated track car. Jesse’s future plans are to continue racing with his family, build a drift car, and compete in Master Events in cycling.

         

 So the next time you are at a NASA AZ event be sure to say hi to the Father/Son duo Phil and Jesse Robles.

Written by: Travis Barnes

Who’s Who in NASA: Tony Szirka

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Full Name: Anthony “Tony” Frank Szirka

Where is your Hometown? Ligonier, PA

How long have you lived in AZ? Since 1995, moved to Phoenix in 2002.

Favorite Food(s): Yes

Favorite Music: Depends on mood…Metal to Rap

Occupation: Car Nerd

NASA Position / Run Group: Tech official / TTU

       

          

 

          Tony was born in Romania “but is Hungarian” he grew up in Oradea till the age of 9 when his family moved to America. They settled down in Ligonier, Pennsylvania where Tony grew up. Shortly after his 18th birthday Tony joined the U.S. Army where he was trained as a generator mechanic (52D) and stationed in Germany with the 3rd ID 103d MI Unit. During his stay in Germany Tony met his future tony-shannon-armywife Shannon who was also in the Army. They both dated during their tour in Germany and before Tony’s enlistment was up he asked Shannon to marry him. She said yes of course!! Tony got out of the Army and moved back to Pennsylvania in 1993, Shannon shortly followed as she had to finish her enlistment in the Army as well. They were married that same year in Pennsylvania while Tony was attending Vale Technical Institute. A year later in November their daughter Tabitha was born and Tony graduated from college with his degree in Automotive Technics and Management. In 1995, Tony and his family moved to Prescott, AZ to be close to some of Shannon’s family and to start life somewhere new with his family. Tony worked for York Motors in Prescott as an Auto Technician while Shannon attended college to become a Nurse. Also, during this time Tony was introduced to racing by an acquaintance, Erwin Rice, who invited him out to a track day with Gemini Racing. Tony started to attend many different racing events with Hotchkis and Baer Brake at Button Willow and Firebird Raceway. In January 2001, the Szirka family’s first son was born “Ulrik” bringing the male and female balance into check.

        In 2002, Shannon made a top secret trip to Phoenix for a job interview at a hospital for a surgery nurse position. She got the job and on the way back she stopped by the Volkswagen dealership and picked her out a new Jetta to drive back to tell everyone “to pack up we’re moving”. They moved to Mesa where Tony started working for Mode INC. running the engine dyno, building custom wiring harnesses and engines for Porsches. Tony, happy to be in the performance part of the automotive industry, decided in 2004 he would open up his own performance shop. So in August 2004, UMS Tuning was born. For those of you that don’t know UMS Tuning is named after Tony’s son Ulrik, they are the initials of his full name. With his own shop up and running Tony wanted to get back into racing so in 2006 he started running in NASA AZ with his 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution. Tony has worked his way up through the HPDE ranks and in 2010 he started running Time Trial. During this time Tony competed at Super Lap Battle from 2008 to present, Modified Tuner Shootout from 2009 to present, and Global Time Attack in 2011. Some of Tony’s most memorable experiences in racing happened this year while running with GTA. He was their Race Steward which gave him the opportunity to race at different race tracks to include, New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club. When Tony isn’t busy running the shop or racing you might find him at the karting track, riding his BMX bike or just relaxing at home with his family and pets. Well that’s a wrap for Tony “Sriracha” Szirka be sure you say ‘Hi’ next time you see him if not he might fail your car at Tech as he is a NASA AZ Tech Official.

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Written by: Travis Barnes

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