It was a dinner not of fast food, but one that celebrated fast people.
Reigning champions and select former champions of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series were special guests in Atlanta on May 15 at the NHRA Mello Partnership Dinner, an annual occurrence on the eve of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
Last year’s champions – Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin, Jr., (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) – were the featured guests, and each champion was duly recognized for his tremendous achievement. Along with executives from the hosts, Mello Yello and The Coca-Cola Company, other guests included representatives from NHRA, ESPN and Red Moon Marketing.
Former champions on hand included Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Del Worsham, Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Allen Johnson, Hector Arana, Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec. Championship team owners in attendance included Alan Johnson and Victor Cagnazzi.
Among those in attendance from Coca-Cola were Al Rondon, senior marketing manager, sports and entertainment marketing; Gary Azar, executive sponsor for Mello Yello; Sharon Byers, senior vice president, sports and entertainment marketing; Racquel Mason, assistant vice president, flavor brands; Rudy Beserra, vice president, Latin affairs; Quinton Martin, executive assistant & vice president community marketing; Ray Faust, senior vice president, portfolio commercialization; Bob Cramer, director, professional sports; Ben Reiling, director, sports and entertainment marketing; and Ginger Cherny, brand manager of Mello Yello.
NHRA’s contingent was highlighted by Tom Compton, president; Gary Darcy, senior vice president, sales & marketing; Graham Light, senior vice president, racing operations; Glen Cromwell, vice president, sales and national event marketing; Geno Effler, vice president, public relations and communications; Glen Gray, vice president, technical operations; and Josh Peterson, vice president, racing administration.