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Indy’s Hulman George Passes Away

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 3 2018

Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Mari Hulman George has passed away.

Hulman & Company and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman of the Board Emeritus Mari Hulman George died Saturday in Indianapolis with her family by her side. She was 83.

Mari served as IMS chairman from 1988-2016. She was also a pioneer as co-owner of a team that raced at the highest levels of Midwestern auto racing, in the 1950s and 1960s, a rarity for a woman at the time.

She also engaged in philanthropic efforts for her entire adult life, with special focus on the arts, health care and, in particular, animal care.

“Mari’s devotion to Indianapolis Motor Speedway was only surpassed by her kindness,” NASCAR chairman CEO Jim France, whose series races in the Brickyard 400 at IMS, said. “Her tireless philanthropy and her passion for auto racing leave a legacy that touches the lives of million.

“Mari was a true inspiration to us and her leadership and grace impacted us all. From the France family, all of NASCAR, ISC and IMSA, we send our deepest condolences to the Hulman George family as we mourn her loss.”

Mary Antonia Hulman was born Dec. 26, 1934 in Evansville, Indiana, the daughter of prominent business magnate Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. and Mary Fendrich Hulman. “Mari” attended primary and secondary school at St. Benedict in Terre Haute and the Ladywood School in Indianapolis, and attended Purdue University.

Before her 21st birthday, Mari joined with longtime family friend Roger Wolcott to form the HOW racing team, which fielded American Automobile Association (AAA) and United States Auto Club (USAC) Sprint and National Championship cars for several drivers, including Jerry Hoyt, Eddie Sachs, Tony Bettenhausen, Roger McCluskey and Elmer George, whom she married in April 1957.

George won the Midwest Sprint Car title in 1957 and finished third in 1956 and 1958. Sachs was runner-up in the rankings in 1954. George ended up 10th in the National Championship standings in 1957, with a victory in a 100-mile race at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York.

Mari also fielded an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1962 and 1963, with her husband as the driver. Elmer George finished a career-best 17th in 1962, receiving relief help from Paul Russo and A.J. Foyt.

“I was really sorry to hear that Mari passed on,” Fout said. “My wife Lucy and I were close friends with Mari and Elmer George, we spent a lot of time together. When I was coming up through the ranks we lived with them two or three summers. We’ve been close for over 60 years. We spent many a Christmas together, our kids are about the same age so we had a lot of wonderful times together. She is the one who got me in the horse racing business. She had quarter horses and talked me into buying a horse. I’m still in the horse business. We did a lot of things together and had a lot of fun. She’s going to be dearly missed, especially by me.”

She savored the friendships she established with drivers, team owners, mechanics and officials during her young adult years, maintaining those bonds for her entire life. She was especially close to legendary four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt, whom she met a year before his 1958 Indianapolis 500 debut and is still a cherished family friend.

Racing fans worldwide also knew her as the person who gave the famous command to start engines for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 for more than 15 years from the late 1990s until 2015.

She also became close friends with many of the celebrities who visited the track each May, especially beloved Memorial Day weekend fixtures Jim Nabors and Florence Henderson.

Mari’s commitment to racing was equaled by her generosity for supporting local, regional and national causes.

She was devoted to the arts and education and served for years as a trustee at the Rose-Hulman Institute for Technology in Terre Haute, which was founded in 1874 with significant assistance from the Hulman family. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Rose-Hulman in 1998 and from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, also located in Terre Haute.

The Hulman-George family also made large contributions to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana State University, Purdue University, Indiana University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, among other art and educational institutions.

Mari is survived by three daughters, Nancy George, Josie George and Kathi George-Conforti; a son, Anton H. “Tony” George; a stepdaughter, Carolyn Coffey; seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and her longtime companion, Guy Trollinger. She was predeceased by her husband, Elmer, and a stepson, Joseph George.

Funeral arrangements are pending and have been entrusted to Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home in Terre Haute, Indiana.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 3 2018
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