Tree planting honors NASCAR course benefactor
Elon University friends and family of Dr. Joe Mattioli celebrated his legacy April 6 in a ceremony outside the Koury Business Center.
A small crowd of family and friends gathered April 6 in front of Koury Business Center to plant a tree in memory of a man whose generous contributions to Elon University have influenced students in the business school for years.
Dr. Joe Mattioli, founder of the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, died in January. He and his wife, Rose, have since the mid 1990s supported a popular course, “The Business of NASCAR,” in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.
Led by Scott Buechler, interim dean of the Love School of Business, the tree-planting service included reflections from faculty and family on the legacy Mattioli leaves not just at Elon but for all those who knew him. Ashley Igdalsky-Mattioli ’02, Joe Mattioli’s granddaughter, and his grand-niece, Elon freshman Alivia Mattioli, represented the family. Another of Mattioli’s grandchildren, Nick Igdalsky ’99, is a member of the Love School of Business Board of Advisors.
“Doc was a visionary … this is just wonderful,” said Ashley Igdalsky-Mattioli.
The Nuttall Oak planted in Mattioli’s honor sits to the north of Chandler fountain and will grow upward of 60 feet in height, with foliage that turns bright red each fall. Business school officials noted how the tree will add to the landscaping of the Koury Business Center, and they marveled at the generosity and foresight that were the hallmarks of Mattioli's life.
“A dentist by training, Dr. Mattioli decided in 1960 to forgo his pursuit of dentistry and convert a farm field in Pennsylvania into a raceway, which he developed into a track that came to be called ‘The Indianapolis of the East,’” Buechler said. “It was a great success and allowed him to underwrite a course that has become a favorite among Elon students.”
Professor Coleman Rich, who currently teaches the NASCAR course, remarked that the course not only teaches students about the sport, but also about philanthropy. Students are involved with Victory Junction Gang Camp, a local camp for children with chronic illnesses founded by NASCAR legend Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, in memory of their son Adam.
To date, “Business of NASCAR” students have raised $2,500 for the camp through a pine car derby and other fundraising efforts incorporated into the curriculum. Rich presented a certificate of gratitude from the Victory Junction Gang Camp to Ashley Igdalsky-Mattioli and Alivia Mattioli.
Rich also praised Joe Mattioli’s vision for what the class could offer Elon students. “The motorsports industry in North Carolina is a $6 billion industry which not only includes the tracks and race teams, but marketers, lawyers, broadcasting, educators, and businesses which support the sport. These jobs pay well and companies in this industry are constantly looking for bright talent,” Rich said. “Dr. Joe Mattioli saw the big picture. Students become fans of the sport because of the class, and he allowed students to see the sport as a career.”
“I am thrilled to be able to honor him today and hope he is watching over us to hear all I was not able to say,” Alivia Mattioli said as she told of returning to Pennsylvania after Winter Term but not being able to share with Joe Mattioli all she learned in the NASCAR course.