Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman of the Board Emeritus Mari Hulman George died Saturday, in Indianapolis at the age of 83, the speedway announced.
“Mari Hulman George was one of the nicest, most gentle people you would ever meet, but she also was an incredibly influential leader in American motorsports and the state of Indiana for the last 60 years,” said Mark Miles, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hulman & Company. “She combined a true passion for auto racing with a common, human touch toward all, especially drivers and fans. Generations of Hoosiers have benefited from her tireless charitable work, and her commitment to animal care is exemplary and a mirror of her kindness. We extend our sincere condolences to the entire Hulman-George family and will miss her greatly.”
Pictured giving the command to “Start your engines” for the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, Mari Hulman George was the only daughter of Anton “Tony” Hulman and Mary Fendrich Hulman, prominent Indiana philanthropists and business owners. She served as the chairperson of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1988 to 2016, and also of Hulman & Company.
For decades, Hulman George hosted the “Racers Party” on the opening weekend of the Month of May leading into the Indianapolis 500, and sometimes even cooked meals for drivers in May during her younger years. She also was a constant fixture at the track with her family during racing events at IMS, especially in May.
“Our mother was such a unique, wonderful person,” her son Tony George said in a statement. “She loved her family, friends, auto racing and animals with equal passion. She was a quiet pioneer in so many ways, from owning a race team in the 1950s and 1960s to overseeing a period of tremendous growth and evolution while chairman of the board at IMS.
“She was known by millions as the woman who gave the command to start engines for the Indianapolis 500 and other events at the Speedway, but her true legacy will be the generous and kind philanthropy she learned from her parents.”
“The Hulman family’s legacy will be felt for generations across Indiana. And, Mari Hulman George’s continuation of the family’s community leadership, giving spirit and compassion defines well the family and its Hoosier heritage,” said IMS president Doug Boles. “Mrs. George was committed to the long-term health of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a treasured Indiana asset, and her stewardship as chairman set the tone for staff and others involved with IMS. We were most impacted by her charitable heart and dedication to causes and organizations that made a difference to our community. While she will be missed deeply by fans, staff, friends and family, her presence and impact will be felt at IMS and across Indiana for years to come.”