Former Indy Speedway chief Hulman George dead at 83

Indianapolis Motor Speedway experienced much development under Mari Hulman George. (AFP pic)

CHICAGO: Former Indianapolis Motor Speedway chairwoman Mari Hulman George, who oversaw the famed oval course for nearly three decades, died on Saturday at the age of 83.

Hulman George, whose father Anton purchased the moribund track in 1945, served as Speedway chairwoman from 1988 to 2016.

She was the rare female owner of a race team in the 1950s, backing her late husband Elmer’s 1962 and 1963 Indy 500 starts.

Hulman George earned worldwide attention each year as the person who told drivers in the 33-car Indy 500 field to start their engines for more than 15 years until passing along the honour after 2015.

During her tenure in charge of the Speedway, Hulman George oversaw the addition of a Formula One race, Grand Prix motorcycling, and US stock car events at the facility, including the construction of a road circuit on the infield of the four-kilometre oval, new garages, scoring and timing facilities and safety upgrades.

“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,” said current Speedway chairman Tony George, Mari’s son.

“We love her deeply and will miss her every day, while ensuring that her spirit and generosity live forever at IMS.”