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CART racing series faces shutdown

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The embattled Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series may be forced to shut down, officials said on Tuesday.

Chief financial officer Thomas Carter said in a statement that CART had been told by potential buyer Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) there would not be enough teams entered in 2004 to meet conditions of the sale.

A minimum number of participants was a condition of the offer to purchase more shares in the company. The sale is due for a shareholder vote on December 19.

In the statement, Carter said the board of directors was "evaluating available alternatives to the merger, including the possibility of ceasing operations, winding up the company's affairs and liquidating its remaining assets."

OWRS has, in the meantime, made a substitute proposal to have CART file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. OWRS would then purchase necessary assets, assume several debts and operate the series.

OWRS is a newly-formed holding company which owns approximately 22.9 percent of CART shares.

CART was formed 25 years ago by team owners breaking away from the United States Auto Club, which then sanctioned the Indy 500, an event now run by the rival Indy Racing League.

But the fortunes of the CART series have foundered since the Indy Racing League, launched by Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George, started up in 1996.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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