August 6, 2011 by USA Post
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, 86, retired as CEO of the Pocono track on Friday, ending his association with the track he built, opened and managed for over four decades.
The man known affectionately as “Doc” unexpectedly announced his retirement at an impromptu news conference Friday at his usual direct way – “It’s time I got the hell out of here.”
Mattioli leaves behind 43 years of running one of the most successful business ventures in the history of the Poconos. While the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped speedway is a biannual bias destination for professionals in NASCAR, its uniqueness has become a favorite stop on the NASCAR schedule for the fans and many drivers.
Mattioli was the founder of the Pocono track – then Pocono International Raceway – which remains the only independently owned track on the NASCAR circuit. In 2009, Mattioli said his family owns 92 percent of the track.
He has always rejected offers to sell the track. Most notable were the offerings O. Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., the company has eight tracks around the country.
Mattioli said Smith often called a few times a year wondering if the track was for sale – but the answer was always no.
“The one I remember was some guys from Las Vegas wanted to buy (Pocono Raceway), but only to destroy, and take (annual shutdowns NASCAR track) at his home track in Las Vegas,” said Bob Uguccioni, executive director of all the life of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “That was not happening. Never just sell.”
A dentist in the Philadelphia area by trade, Mattioli was introduced to the idea of?? A racecourse in the Poconos in the 1960s as a private investor. While living in Philadelphia, which had its roots in northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos.
After beginning to be regarded as a silent investor in the fledgling operation, took charge of the project and built the track itself, opening in 1968. The first Indy Car race was in 1971.
The track scored his biggest victory when NASCAR took Mattioli Long Pond in 1974.
“That was the biggest success story of the track,” said Jack Kalins, president and CEO of Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, the manager of the track when opened and a friend of Mattioli since mid-1960. “And I do not think anyone in the Poconos could have done. Doc only.”
Kalins participated in the first plans for a racetrack to bring world-class to the Poconos. Mattioli said was not the only person responsible for the opening, but he was the most important.
“It’s hard to say that would not have occurred but have not been so successful, that’s for sure,” he said.
“I was trying to sell shares on the track before it started, and I would be getting nowhere. I would tell doc about it and had called some people and I called back asking to buy stock. Doc was an arm-twister. He was too good to be the type of fronts. ”
Mattioli remains a strong supporter of racing 500 miles and its place in the calendar, as well as critics hit the length and facilities.
Igdalsky Brandon Mattioli and his grandson and the president of the track, worked hard to address the concerns of NASCAR: The track underwent a renovation 10 years in the 1990s, the addition of new walls accident zone garage and 150-site RV park.
Pocono billionaire recently completed a project that enhanced security and includes a soft barrier wall and get close.
“For over four decades, Dr. Joe and Rose Mattioli have been a part of the success of NASCAR, and follow-up has created many memories for our teams, drivers and fans,” said NASCAR chairman Brian France in a statement. “As we step away from Mattiolis day to day operations at Pocono, we wish him well in retirement and extend our sincere gratitude for his many significant contributions to our sport.”
Mattioli duties have declined in recent years. Health problems have relegated him to a wheelchair, and Igdalsky directs the daily operations of Pocono Raceway president.
Igdalsky now adds CEO title.
Mattioli dedication to the track, not only benefited from NASCAR and racing, but in the region.
“What people do not realize when talking about the importance of these races are (tourism), he is on live TV every day,” said Uguccioni. “Whatever they talk about is” Pocono, ‘Poconos’,’ Monroe County. There was no great amount of funds that might have had, ever, we have bought that kind of advertising. “
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