Outside of the NASCAR races, Pocono is used throughout the year by Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and motorcycle clubs as well as racing schools. The triangular oval also has three separate infield sections of racetrack – North Course, East Course and South Course. Each of these infield sections use a separate portion of the tri-oval to complete the track. During regular non-race weekends, multiple clubs can use the track by running on different infield sections. Also some of the infield sections can be run in either direction, or multiple infield sections can be put together – such as running the North Course and the South Course and using the tri-oval to connect the two.
Pocono Raceway has a unique design. Each turn is modeled after turns at 3 different tracks. Turn One (14 degree banking) was modeled after the now defunct Trenton Speedway, Turn Two (also known as "The Tunnel Turn") is like Indianapolis Motor Speedway (9 degree banking), and Turn 3 (6 degree banking) is similar to The Milwaukee Mile. It could be said to be a tri-oval, but the turns are much more severe than those of a more typical tri-oval such as Daytona and the track is really nearly a triangle. They have been likened somewhat to the hairpin-style turns of road courses. An additional complication is that the three turns are not identical, nor are any of the three straights identical in length. The banking of each turn is considerably less than on many other long ovals. Although the track is long (2.5 miles), the sharp nature of the turns and low banking tends to make the overall speeds much lower than at other tracks of similar lengths, thus restrictor plates are not needed here. For its unique characteristics, Pocono is sometimes referred to as a roval. Others refer to Pocono as a modified road course due to the use of shifting gears to handle the range between the slowest curve and the fastest straightaway.
The odd design makes the setup of the car and the crew's ability to make chassis adjustments even more crucial here than at many other tracks. Often it is the difference between a winning performance and a poor performance. Drivers tend to either love the track or hate it, largely depending on how well it suits their driving style and their crew's abilities.
In 1991 some drivers (notably Mark Martin) began shifting gears down the mammoth frontstretch to try and better navigate the corners. By 1993 the entire field was using a special transmission (known as a Jerico) to shift gears without using the clutch. Though shifting was criticized by some drivers (Rusty Wallace stated it took away from ability to pass cars while Terry Labonte pointedly called it "a pain in the butt") and some called for the Jerico to be banned on ovals, the practice continued until 2005 when a new gear rule eliminated the effectiveness of shifting. In 2011 the gear rule was changed again, allowing shifting to return to the track.
From 1971 to 1989, first USAC and then the CART IndyCar World Series held a 500-mile (800 km) race at Pocono as part of the IndyCar 500-mile Triple Crown. In 1989, Emerson Fittipaldi set a qualifying track record of 211.715 mph (340.722 km/h). Following the 1989 race, however, the track was criticized for its roughness, lack of catch fencing and runoff areas. After continuing squabbles between the management and the sanctioning body, it was removed from the IndyCar schedule.
Scott Dixon talks to the press after winning the Pocono IndyCar 400 in 2013.
From 1977 to 1991, Pocono Raceway hosted the Race of Champions Modified race. From 1977 to 1979, the race was held on the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) triangular superspeedway; from 1980 onward, the three-quarter-mile infield oval was used. Richie Evans and George Kent were the leading winners, each winning two of the fifteen RoC events at Pocono. In 1992, the Race of Champions was moved to Flemington Raceway.
Pocono Raceway and IndyCar announce the return of the Tricky Triangle to the IndyCar schedule starting in 2013.
July 1972: Massive flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Agnes forced postponement of the Schaefer 500 to late July, in conjunction with USAC's Pennsylvania 500 for stock cars; Pocono became the first track to hold back-to-back 500 mile races in one weekend. Joe Leonard won the Schaefer 500 while Roger McCluskey drove a Plymouth Superbird to win the Pennsylvania 500.
July 20 to July 29, 1973: The Pocono State Fair offered performances by Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Mac Davis, the Jackson Five, Helen Reddy, Sammy Davis Jr., Lawrence Welk and other stars.
August 1, 1976: Petty scores a popular win after David Pearson blows a tire with two laps to go.
June 21, 1981: A.J. Foyt wins the USAC Van Scoy Diamond Mines 500. This is the final IndyCar race that USAC sanctioned at Pocono. From 1982–1989 the IndyCar races would be sanctioned by CART. It was also Foyt's final IndyCar win.
1986–1987: Tim Richmond wins three Pocono races in a row. The third and last was the spring race in 1987. Richmond had just returned after missing the first part of the season battling HIV. Richmond was the first HIV positive race car driver to win a major race, this wasn't revealed for nearly four years.
June 19, 1988: On the opening lap of the 1988 Miller High-life 500, Bobby Allison suffered career-ending injuries when he spun and was T-boned by the #63 of Jocko Maggiacomo.
August 21, 1988: Bobby Rahal wins the CART Quaker State 500. This was Bobby's only win of the season. It was his final win with the Truesports IndyCar team, he would leave the team at the end of the season to join team Kraco (incidentally at the end of 1989 team Kraco merged with Galles racing to form Kraco-Galles). This was also the only win ever scored for the Judd engine.
August 20, 1989: Danny Sullivan wins the final CART Pocono 500. This was the final year of the IndyCar 500 mile triple crown.
July 28, 2002: Steve Park and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. became entangled exiting turn one, and both cars slammed into the inside wall, causing Park's vehicle to go airborne over the hood of Earnhardt's car and barrel roll. The incident resulted in a lengthy red flag to repair the old-fashioned highway barrier (a guardrail with wooden supports) that lined the inside of the track in that area. Soon afterward, all outdated barriers at the track were replaced with sturdier walls. The race was shortened by 25 laps due to this repair and rain delays throughout the race, Bill Elliott won the race.
2006: Raybestos Rookie of the Year Denny Hamlin sweeps both races at Pocono.
June 6, 2008: Pocono Raceway becomes one of the first NASCAR tracks in the country to utilize barcode-based ticketing.
June 2008 James Hylton becomes the oldest driver to race at Pocono in the ARCA series.
August 2, 2008: Frank Kimmel, a 9-time ARCA Re/Max Series champion, was injured after a 3-car crash on lap 68 of a Pocono race that involved his car being clipped and slamming into the backstretch wall on the driver's side, going airborne as a result. Kimmel suffered a partially torn sphincter and pulled groin, spending the night in a local hospital before being released.
June 7, 2009: Tony Stewart wins the 2009 Pocono 500. In doing so, he becomes the first person who both owns and drives his car to win in Sprint Cup since Ricky Rudd in 1998. The double-file restart shootout style restart procedure was introduced at the race for the first time at a Sprint Cup Series points race.
June 6, 2010: With two laps to go, Kevin Harvick turned Joey Logano, setting up a green white checkered finish. On the last lap, Kasey Kahne got loose, went through the grass, was hit by Mark Martin and Greg Biffle, and flew through the air, landing on top of the wall and completely destroying several hedges outside the track due to the absence of a catch fence. Denny Hamlin cruised to victory.
July 31, 2010: The Camping World Truck Series raced for the first time at Pocono in the Pocono Mountains 125. It used a multi-truck qualifying format in which successive trucks were sent out 25 seconds apart. Elliott Sadler won the inaugural Truck Series event at Pocono.
August 1, 2010: Jimmie Johnson clipped Kurt Busch on the Long Pond Straightaway and Busch spun across the track. Behind him Elliott Sadler was turned by teammate A.J. Allmendinger and collided with the inside guardrail so savagely it ripped the engine out of the car and threw it to the entrance of the Tunnel Turn. Sadler's wrecked car slid to a stop back on the track and despite being shaken and suffering some pain, he would climb out of the car slowly and was able to walk to the ambulance. The crash was recorded as the hardest hit in NASCAR history. This wreck (along with Kasey Kahne's crash in the spring race) aroused concern over the safety of the track and renovations were made to improve safety, adding SAFER barriers to the inside retaining wall and a catch fence on the Long Pond Straightaway. Greg Biffle won the race, days after owner Jack Roush was involved in a plane crash.
October 4, 2011: Improvement projects were announced, including repaving the track, installing a new flag stand, making the pit stalls concrete, and adding a new pit wall. This was be the first time the track has been repaved since 1995. The new flag stand came from an incident in which a Camping World Truck Series hauler clipped the old stand and destroyed it in August 2011.
January 26, 2012: Founder and chairman of the board for Pocono Raceway, Joseph Mattioli, dies after a long illness.
January 31, 2012: After a viewing and a funeral, Mattioli took his last lap around Pocono Raceway.
April 25–26, 2012: Pocono Raceway hosts a Goodyear Tire Test for Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck series teams, the first event held following the repaving project.
August 5, 2012: Jeff Gordon clinches his first win of the 2012 season and extends his all-time leading six wins at Pocono in the 2012 Pennsylvania 400 after the race ended due to a rainstorm. A fan was killed by a lightning strike, while nine others were injured.
October 2012: Pocono Raceway suffers damage from Hurricane Sandy, such as the steeple being destroyed, the Victory Tower roof being partially missing, and power outages.
June 8, 2013: Chase Elliott wins the Pocono ARCA 200, becoming the youngest ARCA Racing Series superspeedway winner in series history at the age of 17 years and 6 months.
July 6, 2014: Juan Pablo Montoya in the Team Penske number 2 car won the Pocono 500 from the pole. The race would set an international motorsports record as the, "Fastest 500 Mile Race in History". The race had an average speed of 202.402 mph, shattering the previous record of 197.995 mph from a 2002 open wheel race at California Speedway.
In July 2010 Pocono Raceway began the installation of a 3 megawatt solar photovoltaics system. Upon completion the racetrack became the largest solar-powered sports facility in the world. The "solar farm" encompasses approximately 25 acres and consists of almost 40,000 solar modules, which satisfies the energy consumption for the entire racing complex and will help power 1,000 homes. By December 2010, with less than four months in operation, the Pocono system had surpassed the 1,000,000 kilowatt hour production mark. Over the next 20 years the system is expected to produce in excess of 72 million kilowatt hours and offset 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Sheep are used to keep the grass to a low level.