It was a joyride that didn’t last very long.
After imbibing a few drinks, former Road Atlanta maintenance worker Alan Brad Salter made the ill-advised decision to take a $500,000 Ferarri race car out for a late-night spin on the track. He got only 100 yards before crashing.
Salter made matters worse by trying to use a front-end loader to tow the wrecked race car back to the garage, ripping up asphalt along the way.
On Thursday, Salter pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property in Hall County Superior Court.
Judge Kathlene Gosselin sounded astonished at the estimated damage to the car — $51,000.
“Holy cow,” the judge said.
Salter, who blamed the bad decision on drinking, has entered a treatment program and is now eight months sober, he told the judge. In a negotiated plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of theft by taking motor vehicle and recommended a sentence of five years’ probation, with the condition that Salter complete a substance abuse treatment program.
“You really did get a break,” Gosselin told the defendant.
Salter was ordered to pay restitution of $5,000, to be split between Road Atlanta, where $3,000 worth of damage was done to the Braselton racing facility’s asphalt, and car owner John Shapiro.
Damage to the car, a 2006 F430 Challenge Ferrari, was confined to the rear end and undercarriage of the car, along with a scuffed wheel well and a broken rear wheel.
Salter crashed the car around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2007, and was arrested a few days later after admitting it to a co-worker. He is no longer employed at the track and on Thursday was barred from having contact with Road Atlanta employees.
Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Sykes acknowledged that the restitution did not come close to the amount of damage done. The owner of the car may pursue a civil suit to recoup some of the costs of repairs to the car, which was not covered by insurance because it is used for racing, according to Sykes.
“We didn’t feel like he would get $50,000 in five years,” Sykes said.