To Ed Carpenter, the NTT IndyCar Series will be different in 2019 because someone important to the sport and to the Indianapolis 500 will no longer be there to witness it.
The Hulman George family matriarch, Mari Hulman George, passed away on November 3, 2018. She was 83. Carpenter’s stepfather is Tony George, Mari Hulman George’s only son. His aunts are Mari’s daughters, Nancy, Josie and Kathi.
Mari’s loss will be felt throughout the season, especially at the 103rd Indianapolis 500. It will be the first time since Mari’s father, the legendary Tony Hulman, purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from previous owner Eddie Rickenbacker in November 1945, that she will not attend the race. She had been at every Indianapolis 500 since its revival in 1946 after it was shuttered from 1942-45 because of World War II.
“It’s always different when we embark on traditions without people that have been part of the fabric for so long,” Carpenter told the NTT INDYCAR App. “It’s different than Tom Carnegie (the longtime public address voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and Jim Nabors (the comedic actor who often sang ‘Back Home Again, in Indiana’ before the Indy 500). At the same time, it’s a similar feel.
“It’s a piece of the history and the family that is no longer there.”
Carpenter is part of the Hulman George Family and is part of the stewardship that carries on the tradition of the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar racing.
“My hope is we’ll be able to carry on and honor her in the appropriate way,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter’s stepfather, Hulman & Company Chairman of the Board Tony George, oversees the family businesses, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR.
“One thing I’ve learned from Tony over the years and what drives and motivates him is the stewardship aspect,” Carpenter said. “He inherited that from his grandfather. As long as he is here and other members of the family as well, that leadership will be in place.”
The Hulman George family has left a huge imprint on their hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.
The Indianapolis 500 has had a tremendous impact on worldwide auto racing.
“The family, the facility, the event, the promotion, had a great impact on those cities, towns and the state,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter has many memories of Mari.
“She was always super proud and supportive of our team from when we started,” Carpenter said. “I think she would catch some grief from wearing hats that I would give her.
“She wasn’t going to shy away from the fact that she was a Grandma and being supportive like any grandmother would.
“Going to her house, whether it was in Terre Haute or Naples, Florida and the amount of food that she would prepare, she was an excellent cook.
“She always wanted to take care of everyone.”