- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway Founder and Chairman of the Board, and owner of South Boston Speedway died Thursday at Lehigh, Pa., Valley Hospital Center, surrounded by his family following a lengthy illness. He was 86.
Funeral arrangements for Dr. Mattioli were incomplete at press time Thursday.
“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 1960’s and has been at the helm of Pocono ever since.
Under his leadership, the track grew in stature and has hosted 68 very successful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Events. His passion and drive helped Pocono Raceway succeed when other tracks fell by the wayside.
Pocono Raceway is the only remaining family owned and run track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. He was always concerned that race fans and race car drivers and their families were treated with the upmost respect and constantly upgraded procedures and Raceway facilities to meet that goal.
Dr. Mattioli also owned South Boston Speedway, which he purchased in 2004.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Mattioli,” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice.
“His death is a big loss for NASCAR with all of the many contributions he has made to NASCAR racing. We will also miss him for his many contributions to our racing program here at South Boston Speedway and to our community.”
One of the significant contributions Dr. Mattioli has made to the Halifax County community was his strong tie to the Halifax County Public Schools and the Halifax County Public Schools Motorsports Academy.
Through the Motorsports Academy, middle school students have been able to receive basic hands-on automotive instruction and race go-karts on a clay oval as an after-school activity, at no charge. High School students have an opportunity to maintain and repair racecars and serve as crew members on a race team that competes at the NASCAR-sanctioned South Boston Speedway.
Dr. Mattioli kept his fingers on the pulse of stock car racing and read everything printed concerning the sport. He was in the office daily, until last fall, and oversaw all aspects of the Pocono Raceway operations.
At age 83, Dr. Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a three megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at Pocono Raceway. It is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility, making Pocono Raceway a leader in the renewable energy and environmental fields.
Dr. Mattioli was also well respected in his 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.
He served in the Pacific during World War Two 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.
Dr. Mattioli is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dr. Rose, daughters Louie and Michele and son Joseph Mattioli III, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.