Former Marine racing to new heights despite disability
Posted August 15, 2014
Liam Dwyer is not afraid to aim big.
"I think it was the sense of opportunity to complete a dream," said Dwyer.
That dream was to drive fast.
"I knew I had the skills to do it,” he said. “I saw the lap times they were doing and I said ‘I could do this.’"
But that's where Dwyer's story takes a very sharp turn. Just three years ago, Marine Staff Sergeant Dwyer stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan. The explosion took his left leg, but not his dream.
"To be doing this while injured is just... I sit here in disbelief of myself sometimes," he admitted.
The journey wasn't easy. One therapist told Dwyer he would never drive a stick shift again, let alone a race car.
"You as a person, let alone a therapist, have no right to tell anybody they can't do anything,” Dwyer said. “You can tell them it could be difficult, there's going to be a lot of challenges with it, but you have no right to tell them they're not going to be able to do something, and scoff at it, which is what this person did and I did not like that at all. So I made it my mission to go out and prove to her that I can.
Dwyer didn't stop there. After meeting Raleigh driver Tom Long, Dwyer started driving competitively on the Tudor United Sports Car series. He doesn't even need any special controls, just a bracket and a Velcro strip to keep his prosthetic leg on the clutch
"Me staying alive was a team effort,” he said. “It wasn't because of one guy, it was because of a whole line of people. And that's exactly what we have with this race team"
In May of this year, on the anniversary of his injury, his Alive Day, Dwyer teamed up with Long to win at Lime Rock in Connecticut.
"Surreal. When you think of a surreal moment in your life, multiply that by a hundred, and that's the way I felt."
Long and Dwyer team up again this month at Virginia International Raceway to continue a story that goes well beyond the track.