The NHRA is suing Coca-Cola and has removed its Mello Yello branding from its website.
NHRA president Glen Cromwell posted to the series’ competition website on Monday that the series has filed a lawsuit against the Coca-Cola. Then NHRA alleges a failure to meet sponsorship obligations. Coca-Cola and the NHRA have been partners since 2002.
Coca-Cola, through its Mello Yello brand, is currently the series’ title sponsor.
Cromwell says that Coca-Cola missed a payment to the NHRA during the pandemic, and now Coca-Cola has informed the racing series that it is ending the sponsorship deal entirely.
“I’m truly proud to say that the NHRA is the largest and greatest auto racing organization in the world, and we have all of you to thank for that, as well as everyone else with a passion for NHRA racing.” Cromwell said. “When the pandemic struck, our entire racing family focused on everyone’s health and safety. On the pro series side, we continued to work closely with our series sponsor, Coca-Cola, and their Mello Yello brand. Even though they decided to withhold a payment from us during the pandemic, they worked with us and all systems were go for their sponsorship to continue, as contracted, through the end of 2023.
“Recently, Coca-Cola had a change of heart, and told us they would walk away from their agreement to sponsor our professional series—not at the end of 2023, as promised in their agreement, but now, after being with us since 2002. We’re deeply disappointed that they’ve taken this position.”
So disappointed, in fact, that Cromwell said that the series has file a lawsuit in California.
“NHRA has always treated our sponsors as part of our family. Family sticks together when times get tough,” Cromwell said. “But it seems The Coca-Cola Company is using the pandemic as an opportunity to break their promise. We can’t let that stand. We owe it to everyone who makes the NHRA so excellent—all our employees, teams, tracks, fans, partners and sponsors—to hold Coca-Cola to its promises.
“Today, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, we filed a lawsuit against The Coca-Cola Company. We have never filed a lawsuit like this in our history, and we never expected to be forced to take action against such a longstanding partner. We value relationships with our sponsors. We do not take this action lightly. But we are unwavering in our belief that we have no other option to protect our rights and the interests of our racing community, especially the racers whose purse was funded in large part by this agreement.”
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