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Carbondale News - Carbondale, PA
  • City man writes book on Pocono Raceway

  • Joe Miegoc, Upper Powderly St., had spent 15 years covering NASCAR racing while working as sports editor of The Pocono Record.


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  • Joe Miegoc, Upper Powderly St., had spent 15 years covering NASCAR racing while working as sports editor of The Pocono Record.
    So he was more than a little surprised when he went online to buy a ticket for Pocono Raceway three years ago and learned about a pivotal time in the raceway’s history which had, in many ways, cemented the longstanding relationship between Bill France, founder of NASCAR, and Dr. Joe Mattioli, owner of Pocono Raceway.
    Mattioli was embroiled in the Indy car war of the late 1970s and he was being boycotted for his stand.  This caused a time of severe economic hardship for him which threatened to close down Pocono Raceway.  In the middle of it all, France sent a personal message to Mattioli telling him, in so many words:  “Hang in there — I’ve got your back!”
    Mattioli heeded those words of wisdom and France made good on his promise, resulting in a very lucrative partnership between NASCAR and Pocono which continues to this day.
    “In all those years working for the Record, somehow I had missed all that,” Joe related.  “I started to wonder what other facts about Pocono I may have missed during my time there.”
    That curiosity led, eventually, to Joe spending two-and-a-half years working on a book about the history of the track, Pocono: NASCAR’s Northern Invasion, which has just been published.
    Mattioli remained loyal to NASCAR during the Indy car war, and once he emerged from that crisis, NASCAR initiated a second Winston Cup race at Pocono.
    “So for the past three decades, there have been two big races every year at Pocono,” Joe related.  “That was NASCAR’s way of rewarding Dr. Mattioli for staying with them through the hard times.”
    “NASCAR needed Pocono to expand its series nationwide,” he explained.
    Pocono: NASCAR’s Northern Invasion recounts the whole history of the raceway in a compact but comprehensive 183 pages, with more than two dozen classic photos included.  Hall of Fame drivers and Nascar insiders tell how Pocono gave NASCAR expanded exposure to 30 million people in a 300-mile radius of the track — from those early days when NASCAR stepped into the breach to save Pocono from extinction, to Janet Guthrie becoming the first woman to drive in a 500-mile Indy car race at the track, to Tim Richmond flashing onto the stock-car scene there, and all the rest.
    Joe noted that the big-name drivers of the past, whose careers were flourishing during the time his book is set, couldn’t have been more helpful to him — guys like Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Bobby Allison (whose great career came to a close on a Father’s Day afternoon at Pocono).
    “Whatever I needed from them, they were more than happy to give,” he recalled gratefully.
    Page 2 of 2 - However, he said today’s drivers “didn’t have any time for me.”
    Joe’s book also contains some additional (non-racing-related) Pocono historical data, like the story behind the third-largest rock festival of the 1970s being held there.  The event, which drew some 200,000 fans, took place over two days and featured such top-name bands of the time as Three Dog Night and The Faces (featuring lead singer Rod Stewart, before he hit it big as a solo artist).
    With the Pocono 500 race just days away (it will be held this Sunday, June 12, with a weekend of events planned from June 10 to 12 at Pocono Raceway), Joe has been doing a great deal of publicity for his newly-published book of late, including television appearances and radio interviews on Sirius and other networks.  He will do two book signings at Pocono on June 11 and 12, at the Pit/Paddock area and the Main Grandstand.
    Copies of Pocono: NASCAR’s Northern Invasion can be purchased online at www.pocononascarnortherninvasion.com, xlibris.com, amazon.com, borders.com, and barnesandnoble.com.  Or, to save shipping costs, contact Joe directly at jmiegoc@gmail.com — and be sure to follow him on Facebook, too.
    Joe was born in Scranton and has lived in Carbondale for 30 years.  He has two children, a son Joe and a daughter Mary Jo.

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