Ex-Marine loses leg in combat, but it doesn't slow him down on the track
Lime Rock a homecoming for Freedom Autosport’s Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer will have a lot to commemorate when the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge visits Lime Rock Park from May 23-24. In addition to marking the Freedom Autosport driver’s homecoming race, the weekend is also the third anniversary of the I.E.D. explosion in Afghanistan that claimed Dwyer’s left leg.
Dwyer, who co-drives the Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 (in photo, in a previous race) with Tom Long, grew up in Litchfield, Connecticut, close to Lime Rock. He will have a lot of friends and family, as well as other veterans injured in the line of duty, cheering him on at Lime Rock during Memorial Day weekend.
“I’ll be making them proud just by being there, but if I can put on a good show and keep the car up front, then it will make it that much sweeter for me,” says Dwyer. “I really hope Tom and I can make Mazda, Freedom Autosport, my friends and family out there proud.”
Thursday, May 22, marks the three-year anniversary of Dwyer’s “Alive Day,” the day that he was clearing a compound in Afghanistan and stepped on an I.E.D. Many military members refer to the day in which they narrowly escaped a fatal injury as their Alive Day.
“About two and a half years ago I was told by somebody I was never going to be able to drive a stick shift again. Here I am now, not only driving a stick again but racing again!” says Dwyer, who races with a modified clutch pedal to which his prosthetic left leg attaches.
Dwyer has plenty of laps around the 1.5-mile Lime Rock circuit, including time as an instructor, but this will be his first time on the track behind the wheel of a Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.
“I think if you look at the history, the MX-5s will do phenomenal there,” Dwyer said. “It’s a track that very much suits the MX-5: it’s all about maintaining momentum, and we’ll get a good run coming out of the downhill corners. The MX-5s are excellent on the brakes, so turn one will be a great passing zone for us.”
Freedom Autosport will have three entries in the ST class. Randy Pobst and Andrew Carbonell, who have won the past two races, will be aiming for their third consecutive victory in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5. Brothers Mark and Mat Pombo will be in the No. 25 Mazda MX-5. The potential for another victory is certainly there: Freedom Autosport has won at Lime Rock twice. Derek Whitis and Tom Long won in 2011, and in 2013 Tristan Nunez and Joel Miller took top honors.
See Dwyer and the rest of Freedom Autosport in the 2.5-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race on Saturday, May 24, at 9:10 a.m. Fans can also watch the race live on IMSA.com.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Urgently needed resources are distributed to post 9-11 Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces. Freedom Autosport is a longtime supporter of the Semper Fi Fund. For more information please visit www.semperfifund.org.
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