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Pocono Raceway founder and visionary Mattioli dies

January 27, 2012, Track Release, NASCAR.com



Pocono Raceway founder and visionary Mattioli dies

LONG POND, Pa. -- Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway founder and chairman of the board, passed away Thursday at the Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, surrounded by his family, following a lengthy illness. He was 86.

"Doc," as he was known to friends and associates, was one of the most respected and admired men in automobile racing. He founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960s and has been at the helm ever since.

Mattioli family statement


It is with the utmost remorse that we announce that Dr. Joseph Mattioli passed away this afternoon. His loss has left with each of us an unbearable sadness, which we'll bear with us for the rest of our lives.


"Doc" was a true leader in every sense of the word. As a visionary, he brought an unknown sport into an alien place, where he along with his unstoppable will and undeniable tenacity built one of the biggest monuments of sports. His passion for his projects was only overshadowed by his deep love for his family, which he gave to all of us hand over fist.


Beyond our family, he had a true love and admiration for the wonderful members of his North Eastern Pennsylvania Community. He had a great respect for all of the great people that laid the foundations of prosperity before him, and an even greater hope for the future of our area, which he believed lies in its youth.


He leaves not only his family, but also everyone he's ever met with an insatiable desire to take life by the horns. He always lived life on his own terms He did it his way.


He died loved, respected, and admired.

In 1974, when NASCAR was attempting to branch out into Northeast markets, the Mattiolis agreed to schedule a race in NASCAR's foremost touring series. Through that association, they formed a strong bond with Bill France Sr. and began a family friendship that has continued for three generations.

"We're very close to the Mattioli family, and obviously our hearts go out to them," NASCAR chairman Brian France said. "He really, really cared a lot about this sport. He'll be missed."

* Sound Off: France, Helton on Mattioli's passing

Under Mattioli's leadership, Pocono Raceway grew in stature and has hosted 68 Cup Series events. His passion and drive helped Pocono succeed when other tracks fell by the wayside. Pocono is the only remaining family-owned and run track on the Cup schedule.

Mattioli was always concerned that race fans and race car drivers and their families were treated with the utmost respect and constantly upgraded procedures and raceway facilities to meet that goal. He kept his fingers on the pulse of stock-car racing and read everything printed concerning the sport. He was in the office daily, until this past fall, and oversaw all aspects of the track's operations.

At age 83, Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar-energy project. He built a three-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at the raceway. It is the world's largest solar-powered sports facility, making Pocono a leader in the renewable energy and environmental fields.

Mattioli also was well respected in the community. In 2009, he received the Philanthropic Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for his generous and continuous contributions to local civic organizations, hospitals, schools and charities. He served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and was dedicated to improving the quality of life in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Mattioli served in the Pacific during World War II as a Navy medic. Using the G.I. Bill, he enrolled in the dentistry program at Temple University (where he met his soon to be wife, Rose.) Upon graduation, he developed his dental practice into a very lucrative business by working 12 to 14 hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. He then began investing in and developing properties in Philadelphia and northeastern Pennsylvania where he became involved in the start-up of Pocono Raceway.

This past August, during a surprise announcement, Mattioli turned over the operation of the track to grandchildren Brandon Igdalsky (president and CEO), Nicholas Igdalsky (COO) and Ashley Igdalsky (secretary/treasurer of the corporation).

Dr. Mattioli is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dr. Rose Mattioli, daughters Louie and Michele and son Joseph Mattioli III, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His passing leaves a void in the NASCAR community and especially to his family and extended Pocono Raceway family.

"The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true icon in our sport, Dr. Joe Mattioli," France said. "Doc's relationship with my family reaches three generations, all the way back to my grandfather. His passion for the sport will live on in the hearts of his family and our fans. His contributions to our sport are wide-spread. We have lost a great leader -- and a great person. NASCAR offers its deepest condolences to his wife, Rose, and the entire Mattioli family."

Service arrangements for Mattioli are incomplete at this time. His family released the following statement:

It is with the utmost remorse that we announce that Dr. Joseph Mattioli passed away this afternoon. His loss has left with each of us an unbearable sadness, which we'll bear with us for the rest of our lives.

Doc was a true leader in every sense of the word. As a visionary, he brought an unknown sport into an alien place, where he along with his unstoppable will and undeniable tenacity built one of the biggest monuments of sports. His passion for his projects was only overshadowed by his deep love for his family, which he gave to all of us hand over fist.

Beyond our family, he had a true love and admiration for the wonderful members of his northeastern Pennsylvania community. He had a great respect for all of the great people that laid the foundations of prosperity before him, and an even greater hope for the future of our area, which he believed lies in its youth.

He leaves not only his family, but also everyone he's ever met with an insatiable desire to take life by the horns. He always lived life on his own terms. He did it his way.

"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." -- Ernest Hemingway

He died loved, respected and admired.

NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.