According to a report issued by the Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal on Monday, the NHRA has struck a multi-year extension with marketing partner Coca-Cola that will see the company change the featured brand it utilizes as the title sponsor from Full Throttle energy drink to Mello Yello.
The deal, which could be announced as early as this week during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, will extend the Coca-Cola and NHRA partnership through the 2016 season. The current contract was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2013 season. The agreement is said to be worth between $3-4 million annually, which is roughly in line with the Full Throttle sponsorship figures.
As part of the new deal, Coca-Cola and the NHRA would integrate Mello Yello into the NHRA logo used in everything from publications and promotions to support vehicles, track signage, and driver uniforms. Mello Yello would also become visible in television and digital ads in the NHRA’s ESPN2 broadcasts and on the NHRA website.
NHRA and Coca-Cola officials have declined to comment directly on the new agreement.
According to sources cited by the SportsBusiness Journal, Coca-Cola’s decision to switch the title sponsorship to the Mello Yello brand reflects the company’s mission to regain some of the market share in the citrus soda category from PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew. Coca-Cola is reportedly phasing out the Full Throttle energy drink brand that currently serves as the NHRA title sponsor, choosing to narrow its energy drink marketing efforts by focusing on its NOS energy drink brand.
As auto racing fans know, Mello Yello does have a history in motorsports. In drag racing circles, Mello Yello was the primary sponsor for a period between 1979 and 1980 on the Funny Car of Frank Oglesby.The brand was first introduced on a large scale to race fans in 1990 in the NASCAR-based movie Days of Thunder on the car of Tom Cruise’s fictional character, Cole Trickle. The following year, the sponsorship and the same livery became an actual car, driven in the Winston Cup series by Kyle Petty through the 1994 season. Mello Yello also served as the title sponsor the fall Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway through 1994.
We’ll have more on this blockbuster story as it became available.