Sunday, June 5, 2016

Pocono Track History

Pocono Raceway has a rich forty-year history.

  • First Race on the three-quarter mile track – 1968
  • First 500 mile Indy race on two and one-half mile track – 1971
  • First NASCAR 500 mile race – 1974
  • Dark Days at Pocono – Due to many construction mistakes, the CART-USAC fight and a lot of inexperience, we suffered severe financial problems. We were almost bankrupt two or three times, but were too naïve to realize it. We were on the verge of selling the track when we received a telephone call from Bill France Sr., who asked us to meet with him in New York. At the meeting he tried to convince us not to sell the track; to stick it out and stay the course. When we resisted his argument, he pulled out his card and wrote the message you see below.

    Needless to say, we took his advice and didn’t wait. He gave us moral support and a lot of good advice. He and his wife, Annie B., came to the race the next two years to show their support for Pocono Raceway. Shortly thereafter he and his son, Bill Jr., gave us our second NASCAR race and as they say, the rest is history. Had it not been for Bill France Sr., Annie B. and Bill Jr., Pocono Raceway would not be here today.

  • The Resurrection of Pocono Raceway – As stated at the outset, we made a lot of mistakes in building Pocono Raceway, and the only way we could achieve what we wanted was to tear down everything and rebuild it from the ground up. We started with a blank piece of paper and drew and designed what we felt, after 25 years of mistakes and trial and errors, were what the participants and the fans would like. So in 1990, very quietly and very slowly, we began to build Pocono Raceway all over again. Over a ten-year period we spent approximately $3 million every year. New crash walls, completely new paving, removed all the old garages and ¾ mile track, completely re-graded and cut and filled the old Garage Area. Built a one-of-a-kind new Garage Area completely different, and second to none. We built a 150-site motor home park for the participants, 124 of which have water, sewer and electricity, the only Sprint Cup track to have all this except for Talladega. Built the biggest and most fan-friendly Paddock Area, so that fans are only 56 feet away from the cars. Built the most beautiful of all Press Rooms on the circuit. Removed all of the old 375 toilets and replaced them all with Long John, the biggest toilet facility in the world, with 1000 stalls, so that we would be assured we would have no lines. Built the largest and most beautiful Midway with fourteen 40′ Blue Spruce, 200 picnic tables and gazebos all over. Today we feel that we have achieved our goal. Pocono PFC – Pocono Pretty, Friendly, Clean. We have no illusion of becoming the biggest, the richest or the most famous racetrack in the world. All we want to be is the Prettiest, Friendliest, and Cleanest, and to have fun along the way with all of our loyal fans these past 32 years.
  • Ahead to the Future – Most people don’t realize all of the unusual facets that Pocono has concerning its location and its structure. Pocono is in the Magic Triangle – New York, Philadelphia and Pocono Raceway are all 90 miles away from each other – with New York as the #1 TV market and Philadelphia as the #4 TV market. Pocono is within 200 miles of 60 million people, and when you consider that the average NASCAR Sprint Cup fan travels 300 miles, we are in the highest population density of any other Sprint Cup track. Our unusual triangular configuration is conducive to many lead changes especially with the longest straightaway and the widest main straight with the longest and widest Pit Road. All of these features give Pocono uniqueness – a very enjoyable difference.
  • Back to the Good Old Days – In the early 1900s, auto racing began by racing automobiles around horse racing tracks at fairgrounds, along with all the ambiance of the state fairs, all kinds of food, picnics, clowns, jugglers, acrobats, bands with lots of different music – that’s what you’ll see at Pocono with our “Back to the Good Old Days” motto. We thank all of you who have helped us to arrive at this point, especially Bill France Sr. and Annie B., who convinced us to stay the course.  The Mattioli Family

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