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Pocono Raceway

August 1, 2010 by staff 

Pocono RacewayPocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa. – Doc Mattioli is 85 and not around the circuit in the mountains as well as he did. Even 10 years ago, he would hop into a bulldozer to take care of a difficult task. Now he must use a wheelchair and his voice once-booming seems softer several decibels.

But he was there on Friday, on a vase, 25-acre patch outside Pocono Raceway, celebrating a success with his grandchildren.

Pocono Raceway, carved in an old farm asparagus 40 years ago, became what he says is the world’s largest installation of solar power sports.

In the background, stock cars buzzing around the racecourse, the practice of Sunday’s race NASCAR Sprint Cup 500-mile. Mattioli is unique, triangular track has been criticized by pilots over the years – even later on Friday afternoon – but they come back.

“When I hear these negative reports, I say:” Well, why do you return? If you do not like it, why are you back? “Mattioli said.” There is always someone to criticize when you’re in a business like that. ”

He paused, smiled and said: “I heard this for 30 years. I just laugh. ”

The solar farm, which the Associated Press reported costs and 16 million euros, will be the power circuit and 1,000 homes nearby. This was not the brainstorm Mattioli, a retired dentist from Philadelphia who is rarely called by his first name, Joseph, was the idea of his grandson, son, 34, Brandon Igdalsky, now president runway .

But Igdalsky had to get the blessing of Mattioli. Igdalsky and George Ewald, director runway, said they believed a much smaller solar project to Mattioli said they could use a parcel of land once cleared for use as parking lots at the track.

Further work is about to start at Pocono. After the Sprint Cup cars race around the track on Sunday for the 66th, steel railings obsolete will be deleted. Soft walls known as Safer barriers will be erected. Igdalsky said the renovation was done quickly had the Sprint Cup Series was not only here in June

Before practice on Friday, Kevin Harvick, Sprint Cup leader, said he was pleased to learn that Pocono planned renovation. A week earlier, before a race at Indianapolis, Pocono said Harvick had the worst obstacles to any Sprint Cup track.

Igdalsky is not shaken by the remarks of this kind. “You can not get better if you do not get criticism,” he said.

And Harvick had something positive to say about aging, bumpy circuit at Pocono. “It’s not like Indy, where everything is dead smooth,” he said. “We will have a certain character to the racetrack to work on this week.”

Pilots would also get more of the infield open, especially after seeing what happened to the car of Kasey Kahne on June 6 in the last race here. Kahne car, which was blocked entering a turn, lost traction on the infield grass and jumped back on the track. It has been hard hit by several other cars and nearly toppled the wall outside the track, which is bordered by a row of small trees. Kahne was uninjured, but the driver Greg Biffle said in an interview with Sports Illustrated in July, “They’ll kill somebody.”

Friday, Jimmie Johnson, four-time Sprint Cup champion, said of Kahne, “I mean, he could be there in the trees.”

Johnson also said: “Not only this track, but I do not think that the grass has an effect within the walls of a circuit of more. There is no friction to slow the vehicle and then cars just hammer the wall when it does. ”

Pocono is just under the ball for the complaints of drivers. And the drivers seem to be grumbling a bit less than they did even earlier this season. Part of the reason was that word leaked last week that NASCAR fined two drivers Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin to make prejudicial comments about the sport, which has been hit hard by the economic poverty.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Tony Stewart, owner and driver who has played a crucial role in the past, said: “We’re all shooting ourselves in the foot because we are convinced some people that sort of thing is bad. ”

Igdalsky said that critics of the runway were in some way, appreciated. When he and Mattioli were asked in separate interviews how often they thought about improving the facilities, they had the same response: permanently. NASCAR is expected to return for two races in 2011.

The sale of tickets for the race this weekend, Igdalsky said, were good. Friday, Mattioli had a peak solar farm to show the public. Maybe that would not improve the race Sunday, but he said he would make an impression on the four generations of his family who attended.

“And that, to me it makes the value of the thing together,” said Mattioli

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