Mello Yello’s comeback is officially on the fast track.

The citrus soft drink returned to the familiar world of motorsports this year as the title sponsor of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

And fans – many of whom have either never tried Mello Yello or have drifted away from the brand over the years – couldn’t be happier.

Mello Yello

A 16-oz. Mello Yello can hit NHRA race markets this summer.

“People are coming up to us at races and saying, ‘Mello Yello is still around? That’s terrific!’” said Racquel Mason, assistant vice president – flavors, Coca-Cola North America. 

Mello Yello’s racing roots trace back to its 1979 launch, when it was introduced as the “World’s Fastest Soft Drink” and sponsored the dragster driven by Frank Oglesby.

The association continued into the 1990s when Tom Cruise drove the Mello Yello car in the hit movie Days of Thunder, and the brand sponsored NASCAR driver Kyle Petty in the Mello Yello #42 Pontiac Grand Prix. This association, plus strong enthusiasm and commitment from Coke bottlers, drove Mello Yello volume to its highest level in the mid-'90s and solidified the brand in the hearts and minds of race fans.

Now, after 18 years away from the racing world, Mello Yello is back on the starting line. To rev up awareness, recruitment and excitement, the brand is hosting fun fan experiences throughout the 24-race NHRA season – from interactive sampling stations showcasing the great citrus taste of Mello Yello and its delicious, no-calorie counterpart, Mello Yello Zero, to racing simulators – to complement branding on the track, cars and through ESPN2’s race coverage.

By the end of the season, more than 500,000 ice-cold samples of Mello Yello and Mello Yello Zero will have been handed out to thirsty race fans, in addition to thousands of cans of Mello Yello distributed by bottlers.

Off the track, retail displays, ticket promotions, radio ads, print creative and social media are spreading the word in race markets. This summer, a limited-edition, 16-oz. can sporting the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series logo flanked by flaming header pipes was released in select areas, and the brand released its first TV commercial in nearly 25 years, featuring NHRA Mello Yello champion Antron Brown. Take a look:

The NHRA partnership supports Mello Yello’s strategy to boost national awareness and availability. The circuit stretches from February to November, with multi-day events from Seattle to Gainesville, California to New Hampshire, and points in between. Races attract up to 100,000 fans.

“It gives us a wide-reaching audience and some much-needed exposure for Mello Yello,” added Al Rondon, senior sports marketing manager, Coca-Cola North America. “The partnership is also a big win for the NHRA because Mello Yello can help promote the sport through our advertising.”

Rondon concluded, “NHRA fans are passionately loyal; they support the brands that support the sport they love. We’re certainly seeing that this year.”