Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky: "It Never Gets Old"

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJuly 24, 2009

Brandon Igdalsky, grandson of Dr. Rose and Doc Mattioli, has been President of Pocono Raceway for two years.  But, in his words, "it never gets old" being at the track where he literally has grown up.

With the second race at Pocono looming large, and the Cup and ARCA drivers coming to town next weekend, Igdalsky intones, "Every time I turn around, I have to be somewhere or be on the phone with somebody or go to this meeting or that meeting."

Igdalsky continues, "We spend 10 months getting ready for each one of these races.  But that's what I live for."

Igdalsky has indeed lived for racing at Pocono.  He recalls the first time he reported for duty.

"It was June 16, 1989," says Igdalsky.  "It was the Monday after the June Cup race," when Igdalsky got his first job at the track, picking up the garbage that had accumulated from the race weekend.

Igdalsky then moved to working the sewer plant at the track, graduated to hospitality for two or three years, and then went to track services.  He also left the track for a brief period of time, working in the restaurant that the family owned.

While Igdalsky's family encouraged him to explore job options outside of the track business, he admits that every summer, "the track just kept calling me back." 

"I knew from a young age that this is where I really enjoyed being," said Igdalsky.  "It was like a moth to light."

After a stint at High Point University, Igdalsky did indeed return to Pocono Raceway to go to the "school of Doc," Doc Mattioli that is.  After working hand in hand for several years with Doc, Igdalsky was appointed to his current role as track President.

As President, Igdalsky says his role varies day-to-day and "minute-to-minute" as race day approaches.  He personally handles much of the e-mail, social networking, and on-line marketing for the track, as well as serving as liaison to NASCAR.

But Idalsky is not above pitching in for any job that needs done.  Last race, he assisted with putting decals on stickers. "I'll do anything", Igdalsky says with a chuckle.

Igdalsky acknowledges that he has a great deal of help when race day rolls around.  "Most of the key staff have been here for 20, 30, or 40 years," says Igdalsky.

"Getting ready for the race is second nature and they all know what they are doing," continues Igdalsky.  "I just make sure we are all going in the same direction."

Igdalsky gets an early start on race day.  "I am at the track by about 5:30 a.m. in the morning.  I go to the firehouse and the safety meetings."

"I spend time with as many people as I can on race day", shares Igdalsky. "I shake hands and kiss babies."

Igdalsky continues, "If it's not done by that time, there is no sense to rush to do it.  Once the race starts, I sit back and enjoy it."

Igdalsky will indeed have to greet fans from all over the Tri-state area.  "We are fortunate to be in Pocono where we have the best of the New York and Philadelphia market," states Igdalsky.

While Pocono draws from a market where one-third of the US population resides within 300 miles of the Raceway, the track also draws an international audience due to the proximity of the airports.

In fact, there is a large Canadian fan base, comprising approximately 5 percent of the Pocono race attendees. 

Adding to the international flavor, Igdalsky advises that there is a large group from Australia, no doubt Marcos Ambrose fans, spending the week preceding the race in New York City and then coming out to the race track for the Cup race on Sunday.

In the past few Pocono races, Igdalsky has partnered with Hollywood to bring in big name stars as Grand Marshals for the race.

The upcoming race, however, will have a "big military presence," says Igdalsky, "including quite a few generals and commanders," complete with an Apache helicopter.

So, far Igdalsky deems ticket sales good.  The Raceway's Ticket Marketplace has also seen a boon, as patrons who cannot attend the race for whatever reason have the opportunity to put their tickets up for sale.

Pocono Raceway has also partnered with the Red Cross for this race, providing a percentage of ticket sales with the special Red Cross promo code as a donation to the Red Cross House.

This charity provides a home for families put out of theirs by a disaster or other trauma.

"Last year, we raised $250,000," says Igdalsky.  "This year, we will definitely be above that."

Pocono Raceway and the Red Cross have also partnered with Sunoco, Roush Fenway Racing, and Greg Biffle to provide an "Ultimate Fan Experience." 

Fans who donate an extra $10 or more to the Red Cross have had the opportunity to register for a drawing to take a few hot laps with Biffle, tour the garage, attend the drivers' meeting and driver introductions, and wave the green flag to start the race.

Igdalsky advises that the winner of the "Ultimate Fan Experience" has been notified and "he was quite excited."  The winner will also get a VIP garage tour in addition to all of the other wonderful race perks.

Other promotions include fans signing up to take some hot laps around Pocono Raceway in a Martz bus.  Proceeds from this promotion will go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the charity started by friends of the Mattioli family, Kyle and Pattie Petty.

While Igdalsky busies himself with race preparations, he has three girls waiting back at home for him to come home from the track.  Igdalsky and his wife have twin five-year-old girls.

Igdalsky advises the girls have started cheerleading this summer and are "really enjoying that."  They will be attending kindergarten in the fall.

After the race weekend is over, Igdalsky will then undoubtedly don his favorite piece of clothing, his flip flops, and head down to the shore for some rest and relaxation. 

He admits that both he and his wife like the "sun and the warmth" and predicts he will no doubt end up as a "snowbird" when he ultimately retires.

Igdalsky's obsession, other than getting his NASCAR fix at the Raceway, is his yard.  Yes, Brandon admits that he is indeed a "yard freak," especially when it comes to his grass.

The yard work and the shore will have to wait, however, as Igdalsky and his Mattioli team family prepares for yet another race weekend.  He admits that Pocono is still "Doc's sandbox."

But there will also be a time soon, when Brandon Igdalsky will make his own mark on the track's history.  As he says, "the next generation is coming."

Until then, Igdalsky, ever the track promoter, urges fans to take advantage of the Red Cross promotion.  "Just visit poconoraceway.com, click on the Red Cross promo code and get a free pit pass, free program, and a die-cast car."

"After all, 10 percent of the ticket purchase goes to a great cause," says Idalsky, getting his pitch in just one more time before heading off to face the next task before the NASCAR show comes to his town.