Financial woes force local charity to close

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Motorsports-focused CARA Charities has ceased operations, the organization announced Monday.

In a posting on its Facebook page, Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary Inc. said it was “unable to generate the financial means necessary” to continue supporting the auto-racing community.

Founded in 1981, Indianapolis-based CARA reported revenue of about $136,300 and expenses of $197,000 in 2011, according to its most recent federal tax filings.

Its charitable work included the national child-safety program Buckle Up Baby, a partnership with Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund that provided infant and special-needs car seats to hospitals in cities with open-wheel racing events.

In 2000, that program won an award from the National Highway Safety Administration.

CARA also coordinated race car driver visits to children’s hospitals, granted the wishes of sick children, and offered what it said was the industry’s first scholarship to a student studying motorsports engineering.

The organization said it has raised a total of $4 million for its programs over the years, but support waned as the economy faltered. CARA reported total contributions of $70,666 in 2011, down from more than $250,000 in 2008.

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