Pocono owner Doc Mattioli retires
Joseph Mattioli sealed the deal to bring NASCAR to the Poconos
over a plate of Southern fried chicken in 1972.
He then turned the popular honeymoon region into the heart of
racing on the Northeast, bringing two Cup races a season to the 2
1/2-mile triangle Pocono Raceway track nestled in the
After nearly 40 years of calling the shots, Mattioli decided to
In an impromptu press conference Friday that caught his family
and associates unaware, Mattioli decided the time was right to turn
the day-to-day operations over to his three grandchildren.
Not much will really change. Brandon Igdalsky, his grandson, was
already track president as Mattioli scaled back his duties in
recent years and has added CEO to his title.
”Brandon is well-trained, and he knows the track like the back
of his hand,” Mattioli said. ”He’s well prepared to do the things
that have to be done.”
The 86-year-old Mattioli fought back tears Friday as he talked
about his decision to step down. Mattioli was in a wheelchair and
held his wife’s hand. Mattioli was a former dentist and known
around the sport as ”Doc.”
Mattioli said ”it’s about time that I got the hell out of
He surprised everyone, telling Igdalsky and track officials to
meet in the media room. When spokesman Bob Pleban handed over the
microphone, that’s when Mattioli broke the news.
”We always thought this was something special,” Mattioli
Mattioli remained a staunch defender of the 500-mile races and
their place on the schedule even as critics bashed the length and
the facilities. Mattioli and Igdalsky worked hard to address
NASCAR’s concerns: The track underwent a 10-year renovation in the
1990s, adding new crash walls, a garage area and 150-site motor
Pocono recently completed a multimillion-dollar project that
bolstered safety and included a soft-wall barrier and catch
”For over four decades, Dr. Joe and Rose Mattioli have been a
big part of NASCAR’s success and their track has created many
memories for our teams, drivers and fans,” NASCAR chairman Brian
France said in a statement. ”As the Mattiolis step away from the
day-to-day operations at Pocono, we wish them all the best in
retirement and extend our heartfelt gratitude for their many
significant contributions to our sport.”
Igdalsky, 35, started working at the track as a teenager picking
trash and working at the sewer plant. He worked in nearly every
department at the track as he worked his way up the company
He called his grandfather a visionary in the sport.
”He always told me, `If you get bored with what you’re doing,
change what you’re doing,”’ Igdalsky said. ”Don’t let work be a
Igdalsky’s brother, Nick, and sister, Ashley, received new
”When I realized my three grandchildren are capable, I started
thinking heavily about it,” he said.
The family owns the track as Mattco Inc. Mattioli, and his wife,
Rose, started the company with only $48, and it’s now valued at
around $600 million.
He always refused to listen to overtures to sell the track and
said it will remain in the family.
The only time Mattioli considered selling Pocono was in the
mid-70s when a CART-USAC spat led to financial trouble at the
Mattioli wanted to sell until he received a call from NASCAR
patriarch Bill France Sr. The two met in New York and France tried
to persuade Mattioli to ride out the downturn and keep the
France pulled out his business card and scribbled this
”On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones who when
within the grasp of victory sat and waited and waiting died.”
Blown up pictures of France Sr., his business card and the note
hang in the media room dining area.
Mattioli kept the track and racing in the mountains.
Now, the next generation is set to carry on his legacy.