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08/21/2004 FEARLESS FLIERS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Aug 25, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

8/21/2004 FEARLESS FLIERS

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Don MaCallister is one of those that actually deserves the praise that is bestowed upon him. While many confuse the term celebrity and hero, Don gets to be both. In one motion Mr. MaCallister gets to play the part of fundraiser extraordinaire, supporting foster kid programs, and a driving force behind the sport of Extreme Gravity Racing.

Now, while the Extreme Gravity Racing Series may seem like a new one to you, it is now in its fourth year. While this sport is still in its early years, it has support and dynamics far beyond its age. The NFL and Formula One might be getting nervous. Take some kids and stick 'em behind the wheel of very similarly prepared yet unique downhill racers and see what happens. These kids are far braver than one would imagine. While we look on, these kids face the equivalent of an adult being sat behind the wheel of a car for the first time and being asked to shoot down the street at 50 miles per hour. Oh yes, don't wipe out either. The course takes the fli ers down a 74-foot long wooden ramp and a 200-foot straight. This has an element of challenge in both driver skill and building ability.

While this may not have the networks vying for the rights to broadcast just yet, I did notice many journalists on the beat. This could be the wave of the future! This has all the hallmarks of a great event. Early on, there were a few wipeouts of the kids into the hay bales as well as a few racers trading paint down the straight. Legendary stuff!

To mix it up and to keep the bigger kids involved, there is a class dedicated to automotive manufacturers. The rules are few and the variations on the theme are wild and exciting to see, especially as regulations have all but eradicated any car that is a non-conformist. Hosting the event again was Ford at the home of their PAG in Irvine, California. This year's participants included Bentley, GM, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche and Volvo. Supporting their development was a number of other companies inside and outside of the auto design industry. These companies showcased their talent in this division. I am blown away by the design and workmanship in these racers. There's no playing around here. All the good stuff is used to create these sleds, computer aided design (CAD), carbon fiber, CNC milled aluminum and assorted other esoteric parts are enlisted for the battle.

As the non-powered transports flew down the tracks, everyone had a thrilling time on the sunny, Saturday afternoon of the race. Kids had a chance to run the projects they had worked on, the design teams were looking for bragging rights.

The last heat of the day in the kids division had the Mazda supported racer edging out the team supported by Suzuki. In the pro class, the all-dominating Porsche "Soapboard" from the prior year looked like they had the trophy all locked up. Porsche had the edge with the experience of one of the industry's luminary figures, Sammy "eat my dust" Trout and just three wheels, which is no longer allowed by the recent rule changes. In the next-to-last heat, the Porsche team suffered a significant tire blowout that led to a failure to turn in the numbers in the finals race. At the end of the day, the GM "Shoe" took the glory and the title.

But, you can ask anyone who was there and they will tell you the real story: Everyone who came out, participated or helped to support the event were the big winners.

Go to www.gravityseries.org for more information

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