Alive, And Well: Wounded Marine Liam Dwyer Celebrates First Professional Victory At Lime Rock Park

Republished from the Hartford Courant 

By Shawn Courchesne
Special To The Hartford Courant

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer (right) and co-driver Tom Long celebrate their victory Saturday at Lime Rock Park (Photo: LAT Photo USA for IMSA)

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer (right) and co-driver Tom Long celebrate their victory Saturday at Lime Rock Park (Photo: LAT Photo USA for IMSA)

Before Saturday, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. and Connecticut native Liam Dwyer said getting the chance to compete at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend was like living out a dream.

That dream took on fully unreal proportions for the driver, who sustained horrific injuries – including the loss of his left leg – in Afghanistan in 2011 after stepping on a improvised explosive device.

Dwyer, in his second race competing as a professional went to victory lane Saturday at Lime Rock Park in Salisbury.

Dwyer, of Litchfield, who competes using a custom-made prosthesis, teamed with co-driver Tom Long Saturday to win the two-hour and 30 miute IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Lime Rock Park.

Dwyer was making his second start in a professional racing division for Freedom Autosport.

Dwyer was injured on May 22, 2011. He celebrates the date as his “Alive Day”, what he called “a day of resurrection.”

He grew up camping at Lime Rock Park annually for Memorial Day racing weekends at the 1.5-mile road course facility.

“Home track, Memorial Day, my Alive Day … surreal does not describe the jubilation I’m feeling right now,” Dwyer said. “Memorial Day is not a day that I take lightly. I know exactly what it means to myself and to my fellow service members. To be here in Connecticut, at Lime Rock, at my home track, a place I’ve camped at before … I can’t explain how awesome this feels right now.”

Dwyer started racing as an amateur in 2012 while going through rehabilitation. He remains enlisted as a Marine while going continuing rehab at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Dwyer is scheduled to run select events with the Freedom Autosport team this year. He made his first start for the team at Mazda Raceway in Monterey, Calif. on May 3. His first race ended with an accident on track at Mazda Raceway.

Dwyer’s specially designed racing prosthesis allows him to drive a car that has virtually no operational changes from normal.

“I was told by a therapist at Walter Reed that I wouldn’t be able to drive a stick-shift again, so obviously that leads into racing,” Dwyer said. “I’ve had therapists there at the hospital that have driven me and have pushed me. I’ve had great people around me that have supported me.”

Dwyer started last in the 33-car field and was up to 25th when he pitted 26 minutes in the event and made a driver change, putting Long behind the wheel. Long drove the remainder of the race and took the lead with five laps remaining in the event.

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