Doc Mattioli, Father of Pocono Raceway, Receives NMPA Hall of Fame HonorBy Mary Jo Buchanan
Just one week shy of the one year anniversary of his passing, Joseph ‘Doc’ Mattioli, father of Pocono Raceway, was remembered in a very special way. Mattioli received one of the sport’s highest honors, induction into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.
“It definitely is a bittersweet moment for our family but it is also a great honor for my grandfather,” Brandon Igdalsky, President of Pocono Raceway, said. “It is a week away from the anniversary of his death and it is a tough week.”
“We all looked up to and idolized him.” Igdalsky continued. “So, it’s nice to honor him in this way.”
Mattioli was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame by Deb Williams, a family friend and an award winning journalist who has covered the sport of NASCAR for over 30 years. Doc’s love of his life and wife, Dr. Rose Mattioli, was also on-hand, as were many other family members, to witness the honor.
“Doctor Joseph Reginald Mattioli Jr. was his formal name,” Williams began as she inducted her friend in front of hundreds of NMPA members and former Hall of Famers. “But we all knew him simply as ‘Doc’.
“The son of Italian immigrants, he called Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania home, moving there after his parents divorced,” Williams continued. “And like many of his generation, he experienced the atrocities of war serving as a Navy corpsman in the Pacific during WWII.”
“Doc’s military service provided him with the GI Bill and the opportunity to attend Temple University in Philadelphia,” Williams said. “While obtaining his dentistry degree, he met and fell in love with Rose, a podiatry student. Of course we all know her as Dr. Rose.”
“After graduation, Doc and Dr. Rose opened their respective practices,” Williams continued. “But he followed a different course with his practice, providing office hours no one else did.”
“They were more like racer’s hours, from early morning to late evening and, needless to say, this was a tiring schedule.”
“So in the 1960’s he cut back his practice,” Williams said. “It was during this time that he became involved in real estate development in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, including Pocono Raceway.”
“During this time, Doc became involved with a group of investors who had an idea to construct a major speedway,” Williams continued. “Doc poured his heart and soul into building one of NASCAR’s most challenging tracks.”
“In fact, he was often found on a bull dozer taking care of business,” Williams said. “His spirit and determination overcame every obstacle he faced and he was a pioneer in NASCAR’s growth in the Northeast.”
“Today, Pocono Raceway’s Sprint Cup events are among the largest spectator sports events in the state of Pennsylvania,” Williams continued. “At 86 years of age, Doc completed his latest project, a three megawatt solar farm that made Pocono the largest renewable energy sport facility in the world and a leader in NASCAR’s commitment to environmental responsibility.”
“Today Doc would be described as a workaholic,” Williams said. “But his generation had come through the Great Depression and a World War, so working hard was merely the way you lived your life.”
“Your word was your bond and you were proud of your family,” Williams continued. “That was a successful life. And Doc was successful not just in business but as a man.”
“He cared about his family, his employees, his community, race fans, competitors and yes, the media,” Williams said. “Everyone was important.”
“Doc Mattioli was the father of Pocono Raceway, a compassionate businessman and without him, Pocono Raceway, might not exist.”
Brandon Igdalsky also remembered his grandfather for his generosity as he, along with his grandmother Dr. Rose, accepted the NMPA honors.
“His philanthropic side was phenomenal,” Igdalsky said. “For a kid who grew up on a farm, if he had it, he would give it.”
“He never cared for any recognition for it,” Igdalsky continued. “We had a cousin who thought my grandfather’s name was anonymous because of all he did for charities anonymously.”
Igdalsky spoke for his entire family when he reflected on the legacy of his grandfather, especially as he followed in his footsteps as President of his beloved race track.
“I always felt that if I could fill a portion of his heel, let alone his shoe, that I’ve accomplished something in my life,” Igdalsky said. “The man is a legend.”
“In our family, he is a legend and in our community, he is a legend for what he has done there,” Igdalsky continued. “He had a lot of ideas and sometimes we looked at him like he was out of his mind but growing up in the business and watching him was amazing.”
“We argued, we agreed to disagree but in the end I understood,” Igdalsky said. “It was his playground and his sand box.”
“And it’s still his sand box and will always be his sand box,” Igdalsky continued. “That’s why when you roll through the tunnel at Pocono Raceway, the sign says ‘Welcome to Doc’s Place.’
“My eight year old daughter decided that we needed to put that sign up this year and that sign will be up as long as we’re around.”
Doc Mattioli joined the other 2013 NMPA Hall of Fame inductees Jim Hunter and Ken Squier. Last year’s inductees included Richard Childress and Ricky Rudd.