Mari Hulman George, chairman emeritus of IMS, dies at 83

INDIANAPOLIS -  Mari Hulman George, chairman of the board emeritus of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, died early Saturday. She was 83.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Hulman George's death in a statement and said her family was by her side.

Hulman George was IMS chairman from 1988 through 2016. Her father, Anton "Tony" Hulman Jr., purchased the speedway in 1945 and saved it from demolition after World War II, and racing and the facility became a staple of the Hulman family.

She also fielded an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1962 and 1963, with husband Elmer George as the driver. He finished a career-best 17th in 1962 and received relief help from Paul Russo and A.J. Foyt during that race.

Indianapolis fans recognized Hulman George as the individual who gave the command to start engines for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 from the late 1990s until 2015.

Born Dec. 26, 1934 in Evansville, Hulman George was a pioneer female co-owner of a team that raced at the highest levels of Midwestern auto racing in the 1950s and 1960s. Hulman George was also known for her philanthropy, focusing on the arts, health care and, in particular, animal care. She served on the board for Hulman & Company, IMS and the IMS Foundation, as well as First Financial Bank, a publicly traded company headquartered in Terre Haute.

Mari is survived by three daughters, a stepdaughter, son Anton H. "Tony" George, who is the current chairman of the speedway, and seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and her longtime companion, Guy Trollinger. She was predeceased in death by her husband, Elmer, and a stepson.

Funeral arrangements are pending but are being handled by Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home in Terre Haute.