The story of a rookie racing driver streaking to a win in only his second outing is fantastic in and of itself. Former Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer, an Afghanistan combat veteran who lost a leg to an improvised explosive device, defies the odds, doctor’s pronouncements and conventional wisdom.
Dwyer lost the lower portion of his left leg in Afghanistan in May of 2011. After more than 50 surgeries, and being told he would never drive a manual transmission car, Dwyer never lost his drive to race.
After witnessing his performances in the 2014 season, Mazda Motorsports offered Dwyer a full ride with the Freedom Autosport team for the 2015 racing season.
“While we’re all impressed with Liam on so many levels, we recruited him for the same reason we recruit any driver,” said John Doonan, motorsports director at Mazda North American Operations. “He’s a great driver. We believe he can help Mazda win. His personal story is just the icing on the cake.”
With all of the hard work Dwyer put into racing, Mazda developed a solution. The Freedom Autosport team devised a quick release mechanism such that Dwyer’s prosthetic directly connects to the clutch pedal, but can be disconnected for a driver change or if he needs to quickly escape from the car.
Speaking of the opportunity, Dwyer said, “I thought things couldn’t get better after the 2014 season, but the Mazda team has once again shown how immensely awesome they are. To be granted a full ride in the Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 is the ultimate dream come true.”
Since 2008, Freedom Autosport has been a major force in the ST class of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series, proving the might of the Mazda MX-5s. Named in honor of the men and women of the U.S. military, Freedom Autosport proudly supports the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, which provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Since its inception, the Semper Fi Fund has given more than 74,500 grants totaling over $93 million to more than 12,000 service members and their families.
Dwyer has also inspired Mazda Motorsports to get more veterans involved in its activities.
“When we first met Liam,” Doonan said, “we knew this was an opportunity to add a great driver to our team. But more importantly, it’s led to us to making plans to open the door for more former members of the Armed Forces to work in motorsports as crewmembers. The Freedom Autosport partnership with the Semper Fi Fund has made this an ideal match for everyone.”
“Liam’s sincere determination to succeed, despite every obstacle he has faced, is truly an inspiration,” said Karen Guenther, president and CEO of the Semper Fi Fund. “Especially to his fellow service members. We’ll all be cheering him on as he crosses the finish line!”
You can follow Dwyer’s racing updates on Twitter @LiamDwyerRacing