Sportscar racer, Rolex 24 at Daytona winner, 12 Hours of Sebring champion, and Mississippi native Jim Pace died on November 13, 2020 after a battle with COVID-19. He was 59 years old.
Pace made a splash in sportscar racing when he joined in 1990, immediately taking a class win in the GLU class at the Rolex 24. In 1996, he secured wins at both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the same year—a coveted achievement that few racers are able to claim. He did so alongside teammates Wayne Taylor and Scott Sharp in a Riley & Scott Mk III-Oldsmobile at Daytona and Taylor and Eric van de Poele at Sebring.
RACER spoke to several of Pace’s closest friends in the wake of the news:
“Jim was a ‘determined mindset’ kind of guy,” recalled Dorsey Schroeder, a frequent co-driver with Pace and one of his best friends. “What made him different was he got where he needed to go through kindness, not by stepping on others’ toes as he went. A true champion, very soft spoken and polite. Jim wanted to be remembered as the nicest guy that anyone ever met. And the champion was.”
Commented Wayne Taylor, “It’s very, very sad news. Hard to believe, especially because Jim and I drove together and won at Sebring in 1996. I was literally showing Scott Dixon a picture of our car in the hotel last night and it was Jim in the car, then 20 minutes later I heard the news. My condolences to him and his family. I always said he was one of the best teammates I ever had.”
While he paved his career in sportscar racing with the IMSA series, Pace had more recently been competing in vintage racing. He sustained a terrible crash driving a Shadow DN4 Can-Am car in July of this year, where his car flipped upside down. Pace walked away unhurt. Unfortunately, he was not as lucky in his brush with COVID-19.
In 2015, Pace took over part of the Historic Sportscar Racing series, where he competed as a driver.
Our thoughts are with Pace’s friends and family.