Jim Pace, Former winner of the “24 Hours of Daytona” and the “12 Hours of Sebring” died on November 13 in Memphis, Tennessee, after contracting COVID-19.
The American participated in America’s premier endurance race 18 times, from 1990 to 2016. He scored the victory in his first start, taking IMSA GTU class honors in a Mazda RX-7 de Team Highball.
Pace, a Mississippi native, began his racing career at Barber Saab in 1988 and quickly moved on to sports cars, finishing third at IMSA Camel Lights in 1991, with a Road America win in a Kudzu-Buick de Essex Racing.
He then won the 1994 IMSA Camel GTU title, winning three races for Leitzinger Racing (Road Atlanta, Indianapolis Raceway Park and Laguna Seca).
We are sad to announce the death of Jim Pace who died of COVID-19 on Friday. A Daytona specialist he won the 24 Hours there in 1996 and competed at Le Mans the same year. He was a great supporter of our friends @HSR_race and to them, his friends and family we offer our thoughts. pic.twitter.com/YGlnl2gCnv
— Historic Racing News (@HistRacingNews) November 14, 2020
The most important moment in Jim Pace’s career came in 1996, when he won the 24 Hours of Daytona in general, alongside Wayne Taylor y Scott Sharp en un Doyle Racing Olds-Riley & Scott Mk III.
This was followed later that year by his victory in the “12 Hours of Sebring” in the same car with Taylor and Eric Van de Poele.
His third visit to the top of the podium this season was at Texas World Speedway, with Taylor as co-driver; however, he was ninth in the championship, achieving five podiums.
Jim Pace helped sow the seeds of motorsports through his decades-long contributions to the Skip Barber Racing School, acting as coaching and mentoring top talent on their way to IndyCar and sports car racing.
In recent years, he was a part of 50-Plus Racing / Highway to Help, competing to raise money for Alzheimer’s awareness.
On the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 24H in 2012, he joined forces with AC / DC lead vocalist, Brian Johnson, ending 12th. Along with his 1996 triumph, he climbed to class podiums in 2003 and 2007.
“Runner, teacher and loyal friend, these are the simple words to describe Jim Pace and the loss our sport feels today due to his passing,” commented John Doonan, President of IMSA.
“When it comes to racing and driving, Jim did it all and saw it all. From beginner to champion. … Jim advised the pilots on the way to the top after he made the same trip himself. All of us at IMSA are devastated to lose a great champion and friend.