During my interview with Doc, we walked around the infield and talked not only of racing and his planned facility improvements, but of the importance of how you treat your customers, in his case, the fans and the competitors. Put them first in your mind and you can be successful he said. I grew up in New Jersey just a couple of hours east of Pocono and I have spent a lot of time there over the years, in the grandstands, on the track and in the garage area. I have seen the transition of Pocono from a NASCAR track (my first visit in the mid-'70s) to a world class, sustainable motorsports complex (today).

One of my favorite, more recent, memories of Doc was during the annual Media Picinic that Dr. Rose throws during the June race. Held in the infield at the Mint Julep Club (first floor of the tower), the Mattiolis use it as a chance to say thanks to all of the media members who cover the races at their track. Inside the club is a nice lounge area with couches arranged facing one another to form a square. A couple of these squares back up to each other. I was sitting in one of these squares with my father. Directly behind us sat Doc and Chris Economaki talking about the past history of Pocono. It seemed like they covered everything, USAC, NASCAR, ARCA, and more. I leaned to my dad and whispered, "If only I had a recorder." Doc turned around and said, "Rob you'd need a truck load of batteries to keep it running with the two of us."

Doc was 86 when he passed away on January 26 of this year. Not surprisingly, he was in the office daily, until last fall, overseeing all aspects of the Pocono Raceway operations. Three years ago, at age 83, he spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a 3 megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at the track, making Pocono the world's largest solar- powered sports facility. Like the reuse of asphalt in the late '90s, Doc's solar farm is another example of how forward thinking he really was, not just a track owner and not just a promoter, but a visionary of how a motorsports facility should be run. Many a short track in this country could learn from Doc.

I built a great relationship with the Mattiolis over the years. I always prodded Doc to write a book about his experiences, but he preferred let his facility do the talking. Everybody in this business has a track that they consider home. It may be where you started racing or it may be where you won the most races, or maybe neither. Perhaps it's where you just feel totally relaxed and part of the family. Having been to hundreds and hundreds of racetracks around the country, there is only one Pocono and for me it's like home, thanks to Doc.

Fun Pocono Facts

Pocono is located just 90 miles from New York and Philadelphia and is within 200 miles of 60 million people. There are actually three separate road courses contained within Pocono's 2.5-mile main track. Each course utilizes one of the NASCAR track's corners and all three tracks can run at the same time. None of the corners are the same and all of the straights are different lengths, making Pocono one of the most challenging racetracks for crew chiefs to set up a car. It's also the only non-road course track where the NASCAR boys shift. They do it going down the front stretch and yes that straightaway is long enough to land a small plane.

In 2009, Dr. Joe 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.