CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Joseph Mattioli, the founder and chairman of Pocono Raceway, has died following a lengthy illness, NASCAR officials announced yesterday during a preseason press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was 86.
Bob Pleban, a vice president at Pocono Raceway, said that family members told him that Dr. Mattioli died yesterday afternoon at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center in Allentown, Pa.
Dr. Mattioli, a dentist, founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960’s and ran the speedway for more than four decades with his wife, Rose. The track has hosted 68 Sprint Cup Series events.
Dr. Mattioli and his wife, Rose, retired last year, handing control of Pocono Raceway to their three eldest grandchildren.
Pocono Raceway is the only remaining family-owned and -run track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
A release by Pocono Speedway said 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,’’ the release said.
At age 83, Dr. Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a 3-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at Pocono Raceway. It is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility.
Mr. Mattioli served in the Pacific during World War II as a Navy medic.
Using the GI bill, he enrolled in the dentistry program at Temple University.
After graduation, he began investing in and developing properties in Philadelphia and northeastern Pennsylvania, where he became involved in the start-up process of what would become Pocono Raceway.