Perhaps one of the most inspirational stories in racing has occurred at Lime Rock Park this weekend, in today’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class race.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer, an Afghanistan veteran who lost his left leg three years ago, is a race winner in the series after co-driving with Tom Long to win in the No. 27 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. The win is the team’s third in a row, after teammates Andrew Carbonell and Randy Pobst won races at both Sebring and Mazda Raceway.
But Dwyer is the bigger story; he only made his CTSC series debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca three weeks ago.
Dwyer impressed with his acclimation to the Freedom Autosport team’s Mazda MX-5 car, in a car that has a specially designed “quick release” to allow for Dwyer to extract himself for the car at a similar pace to his co-driver, Mazda ace Long.
Dwyer built up his endurance and strength training in lower divisions of sports car racing, and thanks to Mazda, had his opportunity in CTSC three weeks ago.
In today’s race Long took over late in the race following Dwyer’s opening stint. In the final 25 minutes, Long had a spin and lost the lead to the sister MX-5 from CJ Wilson Racing, driven by young Scottish rising star Stevan McAleer.
But that car needed a late splash of fuel with five minutes remaining to lose the lead. The stop was exacerbated by a pit road speeding penalty, and McAleer and co-driver Chad McCumbee finished second by 22 seconds.
The second CJWR MX-5, driven by Tyler McQuarrie and the returning Marc Miller, who missed Mazda Raceway due to injuries sustained in a Sebring accident, finished third to complete Mazda’s second straight MX-5 ST podium sweep. The No. 26 Freedom entry (Carbonell, Pobst), the No. 3 CJWR MX-5 (McQuarrie, Elliott Skeer) and No. 5 CJWR MX-5 pulled off the feat three weeks ago at the manufacturer’s home track.