IRVINE, Calif., Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- When Hollywood scripts a racing movie, they tend to go overboard. Having an injured U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant winning a professional race, in only his second start, just miles from where he grew up, on the third anniversary of his 'Alive Day', after 50 surgeries since that injury, on Memorial Day weekend. Who would believe that? Believe it, as that's exactly what happened to Liam Dwyer and his Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 when he co-drove with Tom Long to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST win in late May at Lime Rock Park.
Now this weekend, at Virginia International Raceway, Liam will be back behind the wheel of the #27 Freedom Autosport Semper Fi Fund Mazda MX-5, this time teamed with Randy Pobst, who has already scored two wins this season. The two-and-a-half hour race will start at 2:00 pm (Eastern) on Saturday, August 23. Mazda will be broadcasting LIVE on-board footage from the Dwyer/Pobst car on the Mazda YouTube channel. www.youtube.com/mazda
Liam Dwyer lost the lower portion of his left leg when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in May of 2011. After 50+ surgeries, and being told he would never drive a manual transmission car, Liam never gave up. The Freedom Autosport team devised a quick release mechanism such that Liam's leg is directly connected to the clutch pedal, but can be disconnected for a driver change, or if he needs to escape quickly from the car. For 2014, a three-race schedule was developed to get Liam up to speed with the car and the team.
Liam Dwyer: "VIR is one of a few balanced tracks the Continental Tire Series races on. There are long straightaways for the cars with power, but a lot of technical and heavy braking areas where the Mazda MX-5 will really shine. For this race we tweaked the driver line-ups a bit where I will not be driving with Tom Long, instead I get the pleasure to drive with one of my racing heroes, Randy Pobst. I am very excited for this opportunity as I've watched Randy as a child/teenager race. Randy is extremely fast and already has two wins to his credit this season with Andrew Carbonell. My plan is to get the car setup to where he will be comfortable in it, and give him the car hopefully up towards the front of the field where he can bring home another win."
John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations: "When we first met Liam, 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 members of the Armed Forces to get involved in motorsports as crew members. The Freedom Autosport partnership with the Semper Fi Fund has made this an ideal match for everyone. These first three races in 2014 are hopefully a preview of a full season in 2015 with Liam."
Randy Pobst: "I'm very pleased to join with a man who has become a hero of mine for his positive can-do attitude and our shared love for motor racing. It is an honor to be teamed with a Marine as Freedom Autosport supports the Semper Fi Fund for injured Marines and their families. Liam and I will provide Mazda with yet another shot at the VIR win, where the beginning and ending track segments will suit our MX-5 Miatas very well."
Karen Guenther, President and CEO of the Semper Fi Fund: "Liam's determination to succeed, despite every obstacle he has faced, is an inspiration, especially to his fellow service members. But what's also inspiring is his dedication to supporting those in need, by raising awareness for the Semper Fi Fund. We are thrilled to partner with Freedom Autosport for this upcoming race, and can't wait to see Liam's car sporting the Semper Fi Fund logo! We'll all be cheering him on as he crosses the finish line."
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and MAZDASPEED
Mazda is a leading player in all aspects of sports car racing with an emphasis on endurance road racing. Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America among both club racers and professionals. Thousands of Mazda-powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world's largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. Via the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy, Mazda supports racers at all levels of the sport from club racing up to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship where it races with production SKYACTIV Technology.
Mazda remains the only Asian car company to score an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1991). Mazda has had a naming rights agreement at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since 2000.
Mazda Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com, with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazda Motorsport), Twitter (@mazdaracing), Instagram (MazdaMotorsport) and www.mazdamotorsports.com
About Freedom Autosport
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. Between their inaugural season in 2008 and the end of 2013, Freedom Autosport earned nine wins. The team followed that up by winning three of the first four races in 2014. Freedom Autosport is named in honor of the men and women of the U.S. military who defend our freedom, and the team is a proud supporter of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
About Semper Fi Fund and America's Fund
Semper Fi Fund, and its program America's Fund, are set up to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, directing urgently needed resources to post 9/11 service members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Reserves. Semper Fi Fund has been working with wounded service members since 2004, offering assistance to lessen the burden for those who need it most. The Semper Fi Fund's streamlined structure keeps overhead very low, 6%; they are also one of three veteran charities to receive an "A+" rating from CharityWatch and a "Four Star" rating from Charity Navigator.
The Semper Fi Fund has given more than 74,500 grants totaling $93 million+ to over 12,000 service members and their families. For more information visit www.semperfifund.org
SOURCE Mazda Motorsports