Pocono Raceway Marries Charity and Ultimate Fan Experience

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJune 11, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 25: Greg Biffle (L), driver of the #16 3M/Red Cross Ford, talks with Kurt Busch (R), driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Mattioli family threw a great party for the Pocono 500, but there is more in store for the August race, which will be named the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

This race will bring together two of the Mattioli family's passions, giving back to charity and providing the best fan experience possible.

Brandon Igdalsky, grandson of Dr. Rose and Doc Mattioli and President of Pocono Raceway, announced that the track will work with the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter and Sunoco to present the second race at Pocono on Aug. 2.

This is the second year of Pocono Raceway's partnership with their local Red Cross. While the Mattioli family usually does not "name" races, they made an exception in order to call attention to the needs of the Red Cross, especially in these tough economic times.

"Pocono is pleased to continue our partnership with Sunoco and the Red Cross.  Last year's program was such a success we jumped at the opportunity to partner together again this year in order to put on an exciting event for a worthwhile cause," stated Brandon Igdalsky.

As part of this partnership, Pocono Raceway plans to donate 10 percent of the ticket revenue generated by online ticket buyers using the promo code REDCROSS.

"The partnership started three years ago when I met Looie McNally (daughter of Doc and Dr. Rose Mattioli and President and CEO of Mountain Concessions) and Brandon Igdalsky at the Red Ball gala in the city of Philadelphia," said Julie Appolloni, Senior Director Financial Development for the American Red Cross Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter.

"It was important to the track that they start to engage in the Philadelphia market.  It was a match made in heaven," said Appolloni.

Appolloni continued the story of how the partnership with Pocono, the Red Cross and Sunoco developed. "Bob Owens, Senior VP for Marketing from Sunoco was on the Board of Directors at the Red Cross," said Appolloni.

"Bob got Mike Helton (President of NASCAR) on the phone and got the Red Cross together with the Mattioli family and Sunoco in 2007 and they charted the partnership for the August race in 2008," continued Appolloni.

"Last year, the partnership decision was made 33 days prior to the August 2008 race," said Appolloni. "This year we have so much more planning time."

Appolloni advised that fans who purchase a grandstand ticket using the Red Cross promotion will also receive a pit pass, valued at $50 and a special Souvenir Program Book.

But there is another element added to the mix this year. In addition to the special ticket promotions, fans who donate an additional $10 or more will also be eligible for the "Sunoco Red Cross Ultimate Fan Experience."

The Red Cross has partnered with Roush Fenway Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver Greg Biffle, who also has been a huge supporter of the American Red Cross.

The "ultimate" fan who wins this promotion will get a hot lap around the track with the Biff, wave the green flag for the race, participate as an honorary pit crew member for the No. 16 crew, and receive an all access pass to the festivities.

"The intention is to incentivize additional donations to the Red Cross," said Appollini. Fans can make a donation by visiting gosunoco.com or poconoraceway.com.  They will then be entered into the sweepstakes for the "Ultimate Fan Experience."

"We are thrilled about the partnership all around," said Appolloni. "Last year, we raised $278,000 through the partnership and this year, we hope to raise even more, especially with more lead time and with the Ultimate Fan Experience Sweepstakes."

"It's aggressive,", said Appolloni.  "But we've doubled the stores in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania," which will increase the opportunities to raise funds.

That way, fans can take advantage of the special Red Cross offers, as well as enrolling in the ultimate fan sweepstakes for the donation to the charity.

The funds that are raised for this special Red Cross promotion are earmarked to one of the Mattiolli's favorite Red Cross programs, The Red Cross House.

Karen Muldoon Geis, the head of Communications for the Red Cross, advised that proceeds will help the Red Cross House, which is a one of a kind home for families who have endured an emergency.

"It is a wonderful model that is unique to Southeastern Pennsylvania," said Muldoon Geis.  "We have families who are there for a few days to those there for a few months.  The Red Cross House makes sure that families who have been victims of disaster can get back on their feet after enduring the most difficult time of their lives."

Last year the Southeastern PA chapter responded to 85 disasters, operated 20 disaster shelters, and housed 1,146 people, including 441 children at the Red Cross House.

Representatives from the Red Cross, Sunoco and Greg Biffle's team launched their new initiative at the most recent Pocono race weekend.

All involved are definitely looking forward to the August race and encourage fans to donate generously to qualify for the charitable activities on and off the track for the August Pocono race.