Miatas Were at Home in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Lime Rock
The #27 of Dwyer/Long during the 2014 Continental SportsCar Challenge race
Over the years, Mazda has left an incredible mark at Lime Rock Park, but between 2011-2018, Lime Rock Park fans bore witness to seven remarkable victories from a pair of Miata drivers. Yet, amid the grand tapestry of triumphs from Miata, one shining moment during that era stands out- a heartwarming tale from 2014 when Connecticut-native and military veteran Liam Dwyer defied all odds by putting his Miata in victory circle after losing his leg in combat. The moment in Lime Rock history casted an enduring spell of inspiration over the Miata community, and with MiataCon just a month away (Oct. 27-28), we take a nostalgic journey back to those thrilling days when the Mazda Miata reigned supreme at Lime Rock Park.
Mazda Miata drivers competing in the Grand-Am and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge found a home at Lime Rock Park, scoring seven victories among a pair of podium sweeps from 2011-2018.
The highlight came in 2014, when Dwyer joined Tom Long in winning the stand-alone ST race on Memorial Day. U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Dwyer, who was badly injured fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan, competed using a prosthetic leg in order to use the clutch. The team had to repair major damage from an incident in the previous race, and didn’t turn a lap before Friday practice. With qualifying cancelled due to rain, Dwyer had to start at the back of the field.
Running in only his second professional race, Dwyer passed nine cars during a solid opening stint. Long took over and fought back challenges from the two C.J. Wilson Racing Miatas of Stevan McAleer and Tyler McQuarrie to score an emotional victory and a podium sweep for the MX-5.
That was one of many highlights for the Miatas. Long and Rhett O’Doski took a second-place finish for Freedom in 2008, with Long breaking through for a victory with Derek Whitis in 2011. Lime Rock saw a Mazda take ST honors in the Koni Challenge in 2012, with Pierre Kleinubing and Jason Clunie winning in a Mazdaspeed 3. The Miata scored again at Lime Rock in the 2013 season finale – Grand-Am’s final event – won by Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez for Freedom.
Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee began a three-year Lime Rock winning streak under IMSA sanction in 2015, taking the victory for C.J. Wilson, an all-star pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. The MX-5 again swept the podium in 2016, with McAleer and McCumbee winning for Freedom Autosport, followed by Alara Racing’s Terry Borcheller and Christian Szymczak. Dwyer, co-driving with Andrew Carbonell, took third for Freedom.
The McAleer/McCumbee combo clicked again for Freedom Autosport in 2017, winning from the pole in a dominant performance.
The series saw major changes for 2018, now running as the Michelin Pilot Challenge. The ST class transitioned into a new category for cars conforming to international TCR specifications, while Mazda concentrated on the lead DPi category.
Mazda’s professional racing days for the Miata at Lime Rock may have ended, but fans of the MX-5 will fondly recall the glory days during MiataCon. Alongside all of our other spectator events, all active military and veterans will receive free entry to MiataCon.
Advanced spectator tickets for the two-day event are just $25. Children 12 and under are free. Camping and infield car corral parking experiences are also available. Camping is limited for this event and spots will not be assigned in advance.
Team/Driver Racing Registration: Driver Registration – MiataCon
Vendor Registration: https://limerock.com/vendors
Event Info: https://limerock.com/events/miatacon/
Learn more about Sports Car Driving Association (SCDA): https://scda1.com/