Dr. Rose Mattioli, matriarch of the Mattioli family and the unofficial first lady of Pocono Raceway, died Monday at her home at the age of 92.
A beloved figure around the race track for more than 50 years, Mattioli was adored by her family, as well the participants and fans in the motorsports world.
Dr. Rose and her late husband, Dr. Joseph ‘Doc’ Mattioli, co-founded Pocono Raceway in 1968, which remains a family-owned-and-operated business.
They worked side-by-side to build Pocono Raceway and in turn became of the most admired and recognized families in motorsports.
Doc Mattioli began relinquishing leadership duties to his grandkids in 2007. Brandon Igdalsky was named the third president in Pocono Raceway history in 2007 and added CEO duties four years later.
In 2017, Brandon Igdalsky resigned to join NASCAR as managing director of event marketing and promotion, and his brother, Nick, who had been chief operations officer and senior vice president, became the track’s CEO.
Even after Doc Mattioli died in 2012 at the age of 86, his widow was a frequent visitor at the race track and media members and racing officials often stopped by to see her and engage in conversation.
“Dr. Rose was the heart and soul of Pocono Raceway for over 50 years,” the family said in a release issued by the race track. “She would often tell us, ‘I love Pocono and auto racing more than Doc,’ and we believed her. While Doc moved the mountains, Rose moved your spirit. Dr. Rose’s contributions to motorsports and her philanthropic efforts will always live in a class of their own.
She played a vital role in allowing women into auto racing garage areas during an era where they were otherwise unwelcome.”
The Mattiolis were respected in the Monroe County community, often making donations and contributions anonymously.
“Her passing has motivated us to remain steadfast, now more than ever, to never waver from Rose and Doc’s commitment of always doing right by our Pocono Raceway family, our fans, our local community and the auto racing industry,” the family release said. “While we will miss her, we take comfort in knowing Rose and Doc are reunited and that their legacy will live on forever.”
Rose Mattioli is survived by her daughters Looie and Michele, and son Joseph III, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The Mattioli and Igdalsky families also wish to thank Jessica Rene, Rose’s caregiver, for the support and companionship.
Born and raised in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Rose met Joseph Mattioli while attending Temple University in 1947. The couple secretly eloped one year later, but officially married in front of family and friends on August 5, 1950.
While celebrating the first birthday of their first child, Looie, and pregnant with their second child, Joseph III, Rose graduated first in her class from Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine in June of 1952.
In 1955, the Mattiolis opened their dental and podiatric practices in northeast Philadelphia.
In the mid-1960s, Rose and Doc took on a new business venture in Long Pond, Monroe County, acquiring a spinach farm that was eventually transformed into Pocono Raceway.
The first race was on the 2 1/2-mile track in 1968. The track hosted its first major motorsports event in June of 1971, the Schaefer 500 IndyCar race won by Mark Donohue, several days after Dr. Rose performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Pocono Raceway has hosted 26 more IndyCar races, including one each of the past seven years after going 23 summers without an IndyCar event.
But the track is best known for NASCAR racing. The first NASCAR race was in 1974 and NASCAR has held two Cup races each year since 1982, including two this past weekend, giving Pocono a total of 86 Cup races.
Besides being known as Pocono Raceway founders, the Mattiolis were known for philanthropy. The Mattioli Foundation funds numerous scholarships and charitable organizations, including the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, United Way of Monroe County, Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, Jimmie Johnson Legacy Scholarship at Monroe Career & Technical Institute and The NASCAR Foundation.
In 2010, the trauma center at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Salisbury Township was named in honor of the Mattioli family after a $1 million donation. Attending the ceremony was NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, who spent six weeks in the hospital’s trauma unit in 1988 after a spectacular first-lap crash at Pocono.
The trauma center cares for about 4,500 patients a year.
Services for Dr. Rose Mattioli will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations be sent to any charity of the donors’ choosing.