Photo Credit: IMSA.com
That a 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata recently won its class in the most recent Continental SportsCar Challenge event should shock no one, and even the fact that the race actually ended in a 1-2-3 finish for Miatas—for the second consecutive Challenge stop—probably won't raise too many eyebrows amongst road-racing aficionados.
But how about this for a Memorial Day to remember: The winning team in that recent race, held at the historic Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, included not only Tom Long, who usually pilots a Mazda prototype in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, but also U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer—who lost his left leg in Afghanistan and was competing in only his second pro racing event.
Adding yet another layer of awesome, Dwyer and Long were forced to overtake nearly the entire field in their 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata to achieve their win, since they had to start at the back of the grid at Lime Rock; that’s per series rules after posting a DNF in the previous race. In the end, it was a team effort that saw Dwyer set the pace by reeling in 10 rivals during the first stint of racing alone, while Long sealed the victory during the last laps by holding off a pair of 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miatas campaigned by Stevan McAleer/Chad McCumbee and Tyler McQuarrie/Marc Miller.
Said Dwyer: "This was a storybook ending to a fairy tale that even Hollywood couldn't make up. So many people at Freedom Autosport, Long Road Racing, and Mazda made this opportunity possible. The Mazda MX-5 was clearly the best car here at Lime Rock. My whole goal was to get the car to Tom in one piece, such that Tom could contend for the win. I can't thank Tom enough for being a great coach, phenomenal driver and a friend who believed in me."