Victory lane at Lime Rock Park was shared by the Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911 and the Mazda MX-5 of Freedom Autosport after the two and a half hour Continental Tires SportsCar Challenge race. The GS class victory is the first of 2014 for the defending champion team and came after an amazingly quick pit stop for the #13 997 Cup and a fantastic stint from Matt Plumb.
The pit stop was timed at fifteen seconds faster than any other car in the field and rocketed the nineteen times race winner into first from fifth on the road.
Rivals Fall-Line Motorsports and TRG-AMR will both be left fuming after missing the chance to take their pit stops under caution. The flag went out one hour and 26 minutes into the race after the #18 Camaro came to grief at the first corner and while the Arehucas Rum Racing machine was recovered Plumb rocketed to the head of the field. As the green was shown the #13 headed the Subaru of Kyle Gimple and Ryan Eversley and the #15 Jade Buford driven Mustang from Multimatic Motorsports.
After the restart the Porsche from Rum Bum was never headed, though despite his best efforts Plumb couldn’t fully make good his escape. A steady lead of 2.5 seconds finally made it to 4.861 by the flag but it took 52 minutes of hard work to achieve.
The bigger story was the Subaru and it’s monumental rise from 26th in a 28 car field to second and when threatened rainfall began to materialise in the form of light showers late in the race it seemed that all may have come good for the #77 Compass360 Racing machine. Alas it was not to bee and the duo had to settle for second ahead of the #9 Andy Lally driven Camaro Z/28.R.
The battle for third had raged for much of the tail end of the race and it could have cone any one of three ways. The Burford and Maxwell driven Mustang dropped off towards the end of the race, ending thirteen seconds behind the Hindman and Edwards BMW M3. The Bavarian brute was just 1.826 seconds down on the car Lally shared with Matt Bell.
In the Street Tuner class race it was celebrations all round as Staff Sergeant Liam Dwyer USMC claimed his maiden victory in the Continental Tires Sportscar Challenge. Staff Sgt. Dwyer shared his Freedom Racing Mazda MX-5 with Tom Long for the race on his home track at Lime Rock Park, contested on Memorial Day which he celebrates as his “Alive Day”.
The newly minted CTSC race winner has a story and a half to tell after he lost his leg three years ago in Afganistan. One custom prosthesis later and special modifications to his racing Mazda, (Velcro and straps to keep his prosthetic leg attached to the clutch pedal,) he took victory after starting stone dead last.
Dwyer took the first stint himself bringing the car into 25th place before handing over to Long during the second of two cautions in the ST race.
Long took the fight to leaders after jumping into the car with only 26 minutes gone. He raced through to the end of the two and a half hour endure battling with Stevan McAleer’s #5 CJ Wilson Racing MX-5 for the class victory. The lead changed five times after the Freedom car came onto terms with the #5 entry only for the battle to be ceded by McAleer when he was forced to pit road for a splash and dash.
After fuel conservation and recovering a spin at turn 7, Tom Long brought the #27 Mazda to victory lane.
The #5 MX-5 took second place almost 20 seconds later after being hit with a drive through for pit lane speeding during the splash and dash. The result equals the best ever finish for starting driver Chad McCumbee. Tyler McQuarrie and Marc Miller put the second MX-5 owned by LA Angels pitcher CJ Wilson on the final step of the podium.
BMW’s were in the race, though to look at the podium you would doubt it. The best of the German machines was the Jeff Mosling and Eric Foss driven Murillo Racing/Mosing Motorcars entered BMW 328i. They took fourth ahead of the similarly equipped #82 Bimmerworld backed entry of James Colborn and Seth Thomas.
GS class second place finishers Gimple and Eversley failed to impress in the ST competition. They placed 19th and three laps down in their Honda Civic SI.
The final word has to go to Staff Sgt. Dwyer though, who despite his injuries continues to serve on active duty with the United States Marine Corps. “I was told by a therapist at Walter Reed [National Milliatry Medical Centre] that I wouldn’t be able to drive a stick-shift again, so obviously that leads into racing.”
“I’ve had therapists there at the hospital that have driven me and have pushed me. I’ve had great people around me that have supported me.
“Mazda took me right under their wing. Two years ago, I met them. Freedom Autosport, they’re the guys I met two years ago that are giving me this opportunity. They’re the guys that are guiding me, and they’re the guys that are giving me the confidence to get out here and do this.”