Don MaCallister knows the pain of a foster child leaving his home.
He knows how it feels to be penniless, homeless and all alone.
That's why MaCallister, a product of the system himself, started
America Works for Kids, a nonprofit organization to help foster
children integrate into society and, more importantly, the work
On Thursday, the 41-year-old Irvine resident brought six of the
world's top automobile manufacturers together in Newport Coast to
participate in the Extreme Gravity Racing Series, an event he
believes will help young people out of foster homes get jobs.
The car companies -- Bentley, General Motors Corp., Mazda, Nissan,
Porsche and Volvo -- unveiled original soapbox models or gravity
racing cars in the backyard of a Newport Coast home during an
exclusive party for sponsors, designers and invited guests. Designers
will race their cars Saturday at the Ford Motor Co. building in
It's a fun project for the automobile companies, which will
benefit a lot of young people, MaCallister said. Proceeds from the
series will go to fund job-training programs, and MaCallister said he
will employ foster children to put on the races as well.
The races are held on an incline about 75 feet long. They average
about 30 mph but can reach speeds of up to 60 mph, MaCallister said.
"These vehicles have no engines, nothing," he said. "They run by
the force of nature."
Designers enjoy the challenge and competition, said Truman E.
Pollard, chief designer for Mazda's North American operations.
"It's good corporate citizenship when we come together for the
kids," he said. "We at Mazda have a history of working with young
people. And as a company, we look at them as future consumers."
The racing series also set off a vigorous contest among the design
teams, Pollard said. He and his team designed two gravity cars.
Pollard welded the chassis himself on both. On the second car, he
painted the image of a dragon using acrylic colors.
"It was inspired by comic books," he said. "But that's the thing.
It's fun when you get to build something that's one of a kind."
Extreme Gravity Racing draws large numbers of young people in the
United Kingdom, said Jim Shore, head of concept engineering for
Bentley, based in Cheshire, England.
"We've mimicked some of our cars in making these models," he said.
"It's exciting for kids. It's competitive, and there's no element of
danger in this sport."
MaCallister hopes the event will continue to draw larger audiences
as it gains in popularity so his nonprofit can help more young
"For them, it's about putting their past behind and becoming
self-sufficient emotionally and economically," he said. "This series
is a just a means to achieve that end."