The heart of the American car culture can be found in the roar of engines and the deep bonds that form between petrolheads, engineers, and their finely tuned machines. One such relationship, steeped in passion and camaraderie, exists between Lemons Headers and Tony Foti. Two names, synonymous with high-speed pursuits and roaring exhausts, are once again joining forces to revive a cherished memory – the LAPD Racing Team.
In the history of drag racing, Lemons Headers occupies a cherished place. Opened in 1997 by Dan and Kathy Lemons, this family business quickly became a household name among car enthusiasts for its custom-made Chevy headers. With a steadfast reputation built over 25 years, their handcrafted, one-of-a-kind applications have set industry standards for quality, precision, and power. The commitment to a custom approach, instead of the ‘one-size fits all’ mentality, has fueled their success. And now, the Lemons’ legacy continues with each exhaust system, designed to fit seamlessly and enhance the performance of Chevy’s across the globe. The company has evolved into a car community hub, filled with a team of dedicated employees and a legion of racing enthusiasts.
On the other side of this enduring partnership stands Tony Foti, a drag racer and a retired LAPD detective who would swap out his badge and gun for a fire suit and helmet on the weekends. He’s known for his audacious drive – both on and off the track. Back in 1984, Foti created the LAPD Racing Team, where he showcased his extraordinary driving skills in an AA/Pro Modified 1991 Camaro, a drag race beast that could hit speeds of over 200 m.p.h. Adorned in LAPD’s black and white livery and a police light bar, this was no ordinary race car; it was a 1,300-horsepower symbol of unity and outreach, a tool to bridge gaps between the police force and the youth of Los Angeles.
The race car, known as the “world’s fastest police car,” captured the imagination of fans worldwide. With Foti behind the wheel, the LAPD Racing Team became an iconic symbol in the drag racing world, winning races as far as New Zealand, Australia, Alaska, and Hawaii and attracting admirers in Japan. Such was its stature that it was twice chosen to open in the Chevrolet booth at the Las Vegas SEMA Show, the premier automotive specialty products trade event.
The history of collaboration between Lemons Headers and Tony Foti dates back to 2010 when a chance encounter at a car show and a common love for automotives united them. It was then that Dan Lemons, disheartened by the mediocre exhaust on Tony’s race car, offered to craft a custom set of headers. The results exceeded expectations, improving not only the car’s aesthetic but also its performance.
“They’re the best headers out there; there’s not even a question,” said Tony. “Even if I didn’t know Dan, from the set of headers I got…wow! My car picked up a bunch instantly with his new headers on.”
This act of goodwill and proven performance sparked a friendship that the pair have cherished over the years, growing so deep that they now consider each other family.
Today, as Tony Foti sets his sights on reviving the LAPD Racing Team, Lemons Headers is once again stepping up to the plate as the primary sponsor. As Dan passes the gauntlet of Lemons Headers to his daughter Jen Lemons and business developer Chuck MacDougall, the company has committed to crafting a custom set of headers for the soon-to-be iconic black-and-white race car. Celebrating the 40th anniversary since the first-ever LAPD race car took to the tracks, the revival of this racing team signifies not only a tribute to the past but also the rekindling of a decades-long friendship.
“We are so pleased to partner with Tony to represent not only our brand and friendship but also to put a positive representation of law enforcement and promote that relationship with the next generation,” said Chuck.
When Tony approached Jen and Chuck with the proposal to revive the LAPD race car, Tony had the perfect one in mind. He had recently stumbled across a used 1971 Split Bumper Pro Mod Camaro Z/28 and knew that with the right engine and a custom black and white refurbish, both the car and the Lemons Headers logo would catch eyes speeding down the racetrack.
“This is the last real police race car we’re ever going to build,” said Tony. And it’s here to make a lasting impression. The new police race car is set to run in the NHRA Nostalgia A/Gas class at 7.6 seconds at 185 MPH, guaranteed to give fans the show they’ve been waiting for.
Together, Lemons Headers and Tony Foti are a testament to the strong bonds forged in the pit lane and the lasting legacy they can create. Their story is a heartwarming and exciting chapter in the exhaust of car racing history, built on mutual respect, shared passion, and an enduring friendship.
So, as the rubber hits the asphalt and the LAPD Racing Team roars back to life, spectators can rest assured that it’s not just about speed. It’s about a unique bond that has lasted decades and the spirit of two industry giants who believe in camaraderie, legacy, and the love of racing.
Ready to experience the rush of the racetracks? The last real police race car is set to debut at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in October at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield.