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INDIANAPOLIS — Mari Hulman George, the chairman emeritus of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has died at the age of 83.

IMS officials say she died Saturday morning with her family by her side.

She’s best known for saying those famous words before the Indianapolis 500: ‘ladies and gentlemen start your engines.’ But her connection to racing was so much more than that. It started in the 1950s when she was co owner of a top racing team in the Midwest.

She began serving as IMS chairperson in 1988, and stayed in the role for nearly 30 years.

IMS President Douglas Boles released a statement:

“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.” 

Mari is survived by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and longtime companion.

Funeral arrangements are pending in Terre Haute. 

(Photo: ANN MILLER CARR/AFP/Getty Images)