Over the past few months, I’ve done a number of articles on NHRA Championship winner hats. When the NHRA was sponsored by Winston in the Winston Drag Racing Series. In 2001, Winston left the sport, and Coca Cola took over, creating the Powerade Drag Racing Series, which lasted until 2008. In 2009, Full Throttle Energy Drink took over the series sponsorship, creating the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, which lasted until the end of the 2012 season. In 2013, Mello Yello took over, creating the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series we know today.
The three championship caps show how differently Full Throttle, the old Mello Yello, and the new Mello Yello promote their companies. Taking a look at the front of the caps, in 2010, Full Throttle simply had a Full Throttle Energy Drink logo. In 2014, the old Mello Yello had a vintage-inspired logo, with a motorsports motif added. In 2016, the new Mello Yello has a bolder, modern logo that is vaguely motorsports themed.The left sides are telling too. Full Throttle went for a minimalist design, with a PRO STOCK CHAMPIONSHIP embroidery with a Full Throttle theme. The Mello Yello caps both utilize a circle design, with PRO STOCK CHAMPION embroidered into it, though the gray was changed for the new Mello Yello as well as a new font was used.The back of the 2010 Full Throttle cap has an NHRA logo, which was needed since the front only has a Full Throttle logo. The word CHAMPION is embroidered on the Velcro closure. This design is mimicked on the 2014 Mello Yello cap, albeit with a larger NHRA logo and slightly larger lettering on the Velcro closure. In 2016, the caps got an update, with CHAMPION above the closure and 2016 on the closure.The right side of the caps aren’t utilized as well as the rest, with only one, the 2014 cap having GO ON YELLO! embroidered into it. While the 2010 cap has 2010 on the brim, and the 2016 cap has nothing.While there isn’t the room for design as the rest of the cap, the top does show some design differences. The eyelets are white on the 2010 cap, as is the squatchee. In 2014, those had changed to black, giving the cap a bit more of an interesting design. This change continued into 2016.The inside of the caps have Main Gate tags. Main Gate is an Indianapolis-based apparel company, which has deals with the NHRA and all their teams. They also have a number of deals with other companies, some sports, some not. In 2010,the inside was black, and the tag is on the right side. In 2014, the inside of the cap is white, the tag is on the left side, and GO ON YELLO! is printed on the brim. In 2016, the brim font changes, but the rest of the inside of the cap remains the same.It’s amazing to me that Full Throttle, who sponsored the biggest drag racing series in the world, took such a minimalist approach to sponsoring the series, but Mello Yello has thrown everything into making the sport work, and bringing in fans. Between the new approach, and a good television deal with FOX, the Mello Yello approach is working out well, and I hope it continues to work well.
Next Week, I will examine a possibly fraudulent SFI-rated suit.