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Speeding promotion angers foe of park

Developer says no harm in offer

POSTED: January 27, 2010 4:00 a.m.

The wording of a press release from the developer of a controversial motorsports park has at least one Dawson County resident up

in arms.

  

“Giving them a free half-day of driving ... I think that’s irresponsible,” said Sam Horner, who opposes the proposed Atlanta Motorsports Park.

  

But developer Jeremy Porter said the recent promotional business literature is harmless.

  

According to a press release, the park offers a discount and free T-shirt if patrons bring their “super speeder ticket to the park.”

  

The so-called “super speeder” law went into effect Jan. 1 for Georgia drivers who are convicted of traveling 75 mph on any two-lane road or at least 85 mph on any road.

  

According to the release, the promotional T-shirt includes the words: “I’ve learned my lesson!” on the front, and “AMP is the only safe and fun way to fill the need for speed” on the back.

  

The park has not been built yet, and it’s at the center of a lawsuit.

  

That hasn’t calmed Horner.

  

“[Porter’s] backing people that are driving and showing bad behavior,” he said. “If he were to offer to put these people through driver’s education after receiving their speeding tickets, that would be different. That might make sense.”

  

Porter defended the press release.

  

“We’re just trying to promote a good place for people to drive fast and safe,” he said. “ ... We’re not going to allow them to get on our track and drive 150 mph into a wall, obviously.”

  

Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten said the “super speeder” law, which carries an extra $200 fine, is in place because “the greater speed you’re going, the greater chance you have of being killed in an accident or killing someone.”

  

“It’s an effort to hopefully control that and cut down on the number of deaths we have every year on Georgia roads,” Wooten said.

  

At the time of publication, the park’s press release did not appear to be on the company’s Web site.

  

Porter, however, provided a recent copy of the document to the Dawson Community News, which he said was different from a previous version posted on the site Jan. 16.

  

He said a miscommunication with the company that handles AMP public relations led to an early, unapproved draft of the press release getting out.

  

The most recent, approved draft contained some changes. Porter said the old version “sounded like you’re supposed to go out there and speed.”

  

“We made the changes and sent it back to them,” he said. “They mistakenly posted the old one.”

  

West and Helen Hamryka, who own a home and horse farm across from the 152-acre car park site in northwestern Dawson, filed a lawsuit against Porter in May 2009 “for the unlawful interference of the [Hamrykas’] right to enjoy the possession of their property and for the disruption of their business.”

  

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied in November, when a judge ruled the plaintiffs could move forward.

  

Despite litigation, the developer closed on the property in September, with plans for nearly three miles of high performance road course for two- and four-wheel vehicles, a members-only lounge, 10,000 square-foot clubhouse, pool and hiking trails.

 

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