Professor Paul Bartoli’s Volunteer Efforts with Pocono Raceway Bring his Passion to Life
As a psychology professor at East Stroudsburg University, Paul Bartoli, Ph.D., could probably give an erudite psychological theory about why he loves watching car racing at Pocono Raceway. But his explanation is simpler.
When 43 cars going 200 mph pass you in the stands at Pocono Raceway “you can feel it in the core of your skeleton,” Bartoli says. “The entire world seems to shake like it’s an earthquake.”
Bartoli has translated a life-long passion for motor sports into volunteer service on the Pocono Raceway’s Fan Council, where he and others work to improve the race experience for each fan.
He helped out at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 in June, the Indy Car 500 on July 5 and 6 and he’ll be back for the GoBowling.com 400, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, from August 1-3.
Bartoli was selected for the 20-member Fan Council out of nearly 80 applicants, according to Kevin Heaney, Raceway media relations director.
“Members of the Fan Council are helping us with promotional events throughout the year at the racetrack,” Heaney said. “They played a major role with our first-time fans this year. We had four, first-time fan booths that they actually ran.”
Heaney said the racetrack staff saw great value in Bartoli’s roots in the community and his understanding of college students, who the track hopes to attract as fans.
“He’s really a great, energetic guy,” Heaney said. “He gets behind everything he does 100 percent. We want people who are going to engage the fan and say, ‘Hey, how’s your experience going?’ and get that feedback for us and Paul fits that perfectly.”
Bartoli grew up in Bartonsville and as a kid used to ride his dirt bike over mountain trails to a hill above the Pocono Raceway track where he could watch the races. Later as a college student, he spent weekends in the summer at races in the track infield and eventually started bringing his son and daughter in the 1990s.
Over the Sprint Cup weekend, Bartoli staffed a table near the Raceway entrance where he advised parents about activities for kids and answered other fan questions.
He also worked alongside racing legend Richard Petty at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. “He was chatting with me like I was his neighbor,” Bartoli said.
Bartoli was able to make time for the Fan Council because he recently retired from serving as a volunteer on the Pocono Township Parks Board and a stint in coaching.
East Stroudsburg University President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D., also took part in the weekend events at Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“Pocono Raceway is a terrific sporting venue and a great asset to our regional economy,” Welsh said. “Professor Bartoli’s volunteering with the Fan Council is another example of how ESU faculty and staff serve the broader community in ways that make the Poconos more vibrant.”
That economic power was detailed in an analysis by two East Stroudsburg University professors who found that in 2013, the Raceway generated $257.5 million in revenue for Pennsylvania’s economy and contributed to the creation of more than 2,700 jobs in such areas as tourism, gas stations, hotels and restaurants.
The report, by Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Economics Constantinos A. Christofides, Ph.D., and Todd Behr, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, was cited at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pa., when the Pocono Raceway was honored in March.
ESU’s ties to the Raceway go way back. The racetrack’s founder, the late Dr. Joseph Mattioli, known as “Doc,” was a great believer in higher education and he and his wife, Dr. Rose, have been generous contributors to the university. The Mattioli Recreation Center on campus is named in their honor.