Funeral arrangements are set for later this week for Mari Hulman George, who served as board chair for Terre Haute-based Hulman & Co. and Indianapolis Motor Speedway for nearly three decades. She was known for her philanthropy — especially for animal welfare and educational causes — and for delivering the famous "start your engines" command on Indianapolis 500 race day. The IMS board chair emerita was 83.
Visitations are scheduled for Wednesday from noon until 8 p.m. at Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home in Terre Haute and Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Terre Haute. A mass will begin at 12:05 p.m. Thursday at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Terre Haute and she will be laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Terre Haute.
Hulman George’s father, Tony Hulman, purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 and revived it after years of neglect during World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s, she was a co-owner of the HOW racing team, which fielded cars in the American Automobile Association, United States Auto Club Sprint and National Championships the 1962 and 1963 Indianapolis 500, which featured her husband, Elmer George, as the driver.
She hosted the "Save Arnold" Barbecue to benefit Indiana Special Olympics every May from 1981 through the mid-2000s, raising over $1 million for Indiana Special Olympics and created a program to bring thousands of Indiana school children to the Speedway each May for complimentary field trips to learn about connections between education and motorsports. Hulman George was also a longtime trustee at the Rose-Hulman Institute for Technology and was a contributor to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana State University, Purdue University, Indiana University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, among others.
IMS Chairman Tony George, son of Mari, said:
Our mother was such a unique, wonderful person. 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. That compassion and desire to help people and animals every day are the true hallmarks of her incredible life. We love her deeply and will miss her every day, while ensuring that her spirit and generosity live forever at IMS.
Hulman & Co. Chief Executive Officer Mark Miles said:
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. 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.
IMS President Doug Boles said:
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. 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.
You can connect to more about Mari Hulman George’s life by clicking here.