Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pocono Founder Dr. Joseph Mattioli Dies

Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder and patriarch of Pocono International Raceway, died today at age 86.

Rest In Peace, Doc
Along with his wife, Rose, Mattioli carved Pocono Raceway out of a farm field, breaking ground on the distinctive, three-turn speedway  in 1969. The track combined characteristics of three of the era's most successful venues. Turn One was modeled after the former Trenton (NJ) Speedway and Turn Two -- also known as "The Tunnel Turn" -- was copied from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn Three is similar to the legendary Milwaukee Mile, and the track's sharp corners and long straightaways make it one of the most unique and challenging courses in all of NASCAR.

Pocono hosted major, open wheel events under the USAC, CART and Champ Car World Series banners from 1971 to 1989, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events since 1974. It also hosted the legendary Race of Champions modified race from 1977 to 1991, first on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, then later on a three-quarter mile infield oval. Doc and Rose were a constant presence at the track, greeting media members and drivers by name while hosting nearly 70 races on the headline NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 

He surprised many by announcing his retirement earlier this year, turning the reins over to his grandchildren. His successor as President, grandson Brandon Igdalski, said Mattioli announced his decision in vintage fashion. “We got a call about 30 minutes beforehand saying, `Be in the Media Center in half an hour,’" said Igdalski. "I had no idea he was going to retire. My jaw hit the ground.”

Mattioli continued to keep his thumb on the pulse of both the track and the sport,  and ensured that NASCAR racing would continue at Pocono for years to come. "I put (the track) in trust," said Mattioli recently. (The grandchildren) can't touch it. They can't sell it. The (SOBs) are going to run it, or they're going to starve."

Igdalski announced his grandfather's passing this afternoon, writing, "Today I have lost my best friend, my mentor, my hero and most of all my grandfather. Pop, you have touched so many! I love and miss you!

"He set the bar so high," said Igdalski recently. "We feel if we can half fill his shoes, we've accomplished something, but he's a legend in this sport. He's a legend in the area for what he's done, not only for the sport as a whole, but for the whole Pocono Mountains and northeastern Pennsylvania."


  1. Dan from NY2:12 PM

    RIP Dr.Joe u will be missed.

  2. Thoughts and prayers to the entire Mattioli family.

  3. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Sad day, He was in a league of his own, Determined to keep that track "Pure" and family owned. Will Miss You Doc!

  4. Anonymous2:26 PM

    Very Sad,

    Doc was determined to keep that track "Pure" and keep it family owned.. He will be missed

  5. Thoughts and prayers to the family. Doc you were a class act

  6. Anonymous3:56 PM

    I wonder if he knew when he retired? God called him home to run his tracks in Heaven. Thank you Doc. My best to his family.

    Doug from NJ