Mari Hulman George
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|Mari Hulman George|
Mari Hulman George 2015 Indianapolis 500
|Born||Mary Antonia Hulman
December 26, 1934
Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S.
|Alma mater||St. Mary-of-the-Woods College|
|Employer||Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Hulman & Company
|Spouse(s)||Elmer George (1957–1976)|
|Children||Nancy, Josie, Kathi and Anton "Tony" Hulman George|
|Parent(s)||Anton "Tony" Hulman and Mary Fendrich Hulman|
Mari Hulman George, born Mary Antonia Hulman on December 26, 1934, in Terre Haute, Indiana, is the daughter of Anton "Tony" Hulman and Mary Fendrich Hulman, prominent Indiana philanthropists and business owners. She was the chairperson of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1988-2016, and Hulman & Company.
Mari was the Hulmans' only child, but from the age of eleven she was often surrounded by the families of Indianapolis 500 drivers, whom she befriended. Perhaps it would come as little surprise that she would marry one such driver, Elmer George, on April 29, 1957. At 22 years of age, she became stepmother to Elmer's children from his first marriage, and the couple would go on to have four children together: three daughters, Nancy, Josie and Kathi; and one son, Anton Hulman George, who, like his namesake grandfather, would be better known as "Tony."
Elmer George, who met with little success as a driver, retired from racing in 1963, later becoming a Speedway vice-president and head of the IMS Radio Network. Mari then filed for divorce from Elmer in May 1976, and a mere 4 weeks after this happening, Elmer was shot multiple times and was killed by Guy Trollinger the family's horse trainer and Mari's alleged boyfriend after an argument at his and Mari's ranch in Terre Haute late at night on the day of that year's Indianapolis 500.
For most of the couple's marriage, they owned a farm outside of Terre Haute, but spent much of their time at their 1,300-acre (5 km2) ranch in Wyoming.
After the death of Tony Hulman in 1977, his wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman, was named the chairperson of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Co., the family's primary business outfit. When Mrs. Hulman's health began to decline, she retired and passed the chairmanship of the companies to her daughter in 1988. Mari Hulman George held those positions until the summer of 2016. Shortly after the 2016 Indianapolis 500, Mari was elected chairman emeritus, and her son Tony George was elevated to the chairman status.
Like her father and mother before her, from 1997 to 2015, Mari officially started the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 races with the famous starting command, "(Ladies and) Gentlemen, start your engines!" In 2014, she was joined by Jim Nabors, and for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, she was joined by the entire Humlan/George family. Mari had also given the command in substitute for her mother in 1981.
Philanthropist and lover of animals
Like her parents, Mari Hulman George is well-known throughout Indiana for her generosity to institutions of higher learning, with her alma mater, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana among the top beneficiaries. The college maintains the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies, founded in part due to her love of horses.
In 2001, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security renamed their search-and-rescue training area at Camp Atterbury the Mari Hulman George Search and Rescue Training Center, in recognition of her contributions to the care of animals displaced and otherwise affected by disasters. She has also been active in the rescue and adoption of racing greyhounds.