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Lemons Headers Announces 2024 Sponsorship Renewal of Don Nelson’s California Hustler with Driver Kamaka Pocock

Lemons Headers, a leader in the high-performance automotive exhaust header industry, proudly announces its latest venture: sponsoring Don Nelson’s iconic Nostalgia Funny Car, California Hustler, now helmed by the talented driver, Kamaka Pocock. This partnership underscores Lemons Headers’ dedication to the sport of drag racing and its commitment to excellence.

Don Nelson Legacy

Growing up in Van Nuys, CA. in the late 50s and 60s, Don Nelson always was a car guy, attending Van Nuys High School and racing on and around Van Nuys Blvd while cruising Bob’s Big Boy Drive-in regularly with the likes of Larry Dixon Sr. 

As young teenagers, brothers Don and Gary covered their paper routes on Whizzer motorbikes and saved money to build their first hot rod, a ’23 “T” bucket powered by a 392 Chrysler Hemi, a car that is still in the family today. At sixteen, Don and his brother were crewmen on a sprint car driven by Rip Erickson and raced at the legendary Ascot Speedway in the late 1950s. 

Since the late 1960s, Don wanted to own a nitro funny car team, and finally, in 2007, he made that dream a reality. 

To this day, the funny car is headquartered in Paso Robles, CA, and was driven by some well-known drivers. Cory Lee and Jeff Arend both took the Hustler to the Winners Circle under veteran Crew Chief Ronnie Swearingin. The team has garnered a loyal and enthusiastic following in the process.

With nearly thirty vintage funny cars usually competing for a sixteen-car field. Don Nelson’s nitro funny car races at Famoso Dragstrip at the legendary March Meet and the season-ending Wally Parks Nostalgia Nationals. During the year, the team races twice at Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho, and at Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the Midwest Nostalgia Nationals.

In 2020 Rookie of the Year, Hawaiian Kamaka Pocock took over the driving chores of Don Nelson’s funny car and has continued by earning Top-5 finishes in the competitive NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series points for the past four seasons. 

The team finished second in 2022 and third in 2023, also finishing in the top three of the Legends Nitro Funny Car Series standings.

In 2023, Don’s car was re-bodied as a carbon-fiber ’72 Camaro, and for the 2024 season, sports a new livery from British designer Jamie Binnie (of Design by Binnie) that pays homage to the original Califonia Hustler paint scheme designed by Kenny Youngblood with sponsorship from Lemons Headers for the second year and Justice Brothers Products, which has supported the team since the very first pass. 

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The California Hustler will race in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series and in the Legends Nitro Funny Cars Series at select NHRA National event races and venues. Second Generation tuner/driver, Pete Kaiser will be contributing to the tuning duties with Don Nelson veteran nitro racer Dale Murray serving as Car Chief, assisting Don Nelson.

A Synergistic Union of Speed and Performance

This exciting collaboration brings together Lemons Headers’ legendary exhaust designs with the raw power and historical legacy of the California Hustler, driven by Kamaka Pocock. “Joining forces with the California Hustler, driven by the skilled Kamaka Pocock, represents a perfect alignment of our core values and our continuous pursuit of racing excellence,” said Jen Lemons, Operations Manager of Lemons Headers. “Don Nelson and my father, Dan Lemons, have had a long-term relationship as we do with all of our customers, and we are thrilled to continue this sponsorship together.”

Kamaka Pocock: A New Era for the California Hustler

Kamaka Pocock, known for his impressive skills and dedication to both the sport and the industry, is set to continue to bring an elite level of excitement and competition to the track. His expertise and passion for racing make him an ideal representative for both Lemons Headers and the storied California Hustler.

Lemons Headers: A Tradition of Innovation and Quality

Lemons Headers has established itself as a beacon of innovation in exhaust system design and performance. “Our sponsorship of the California Hustler is part of our commitment to the racing community and to delivering products that stand at the forefront of power and performance,” Chuck MacDougall, Lemons Headers Business Development.

The Road Ahead: Anticipation and Excitement

With the Lemons Headers brand emblazoned on the California Hustler, the racing season is set to be one of the most thrilling yet. Fans and enthusiasts can expect a fusion of high-speed action, cutting-edge technology, and a shared passion for the sport.

Here is where you can see the California Hustler race live in 2024

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The 2024 Heritage and Legend series:

March meet – Bakersfield, CA. Heritage race – March 1-3
Pomona Nationals – Pomona, CA. Legend race – March 21-24
Phoenix Nationals – Phoenix, AZ. Legend race – April 5-7
Boise – Eagle, ID. Heritage race – May 17-19
Bristol nationals – Bristol, TN. Legend race – June 7-9
Bowling Green – Bowling Green, KY. Heritage race – June 13-15
Boise – Eagle, ID. Heritage race – August 2-4
Woodburn, OR. – Heritage race – August 23-25
Bakersfield, CA. – Heritage race – October 25-27
Las Vegas Nationals – Las Vegas, NV. – Legends – October 31 – Nov. 3

For more information on Lemons Headers’ partnership with Don Nelson’s California Hustler and driver Kamaka Pocock, please contact [email protected].

This story was originally published on February 26, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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