Jim Pace, Daytona Winner, Vintage Racer, Longtime Driving Coach, Passes at 59

Jim Pace, one of the chief organizers of the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival and overall winner of the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona, passed on November 13 following a battle with COVID-19. He was 59 years old.

Byron DeFoor, the founder of the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, knew Pace well, citing that he was not only a great driver on track, but that he was also “one of the nicest, most gracious gentlemen in the sport and car collector world.” As well, DeFoor explains that “his expertise and knowledge were invaluable in the creation of the Festival, and he will be missed.”

Born in Monticello, Mississippi, in 1961, Jim Pace originally dedicated his life to becoming a doctor, going so far as to study at the University of Mississippi Medical School for three years before deciding racing cars would much better suit his life.

Read the full statement from Byron DeFoor and the Chatanooga Motorcar Festival below:

We are saddened and heartbroken by the untimely loss of Jim Pace to COVID-19. Jim was my dear friend and racing partner with the Fifty Plus Racing Foundation that helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Alzheimer’s research. Jim was the President and Chief Operating Officer of our most recent fundraising event, the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. Not only was he an outstanding race-car driver, he was one of the nicest, most gracious gentlemen in the sport and car collector world.

As one of the organizers of the Festival, he was a prominent member of our team. His expertise and knowledge were invaluable in the creation of the Festival, and he will be missed.

This is a terrible disease that should be taken seriously. Jim was a strong, vibrant and healthy man.

Our hearts go out to his family and to his longtime partner and love of his life, Celeste LaChapelle.”

He passed away on Nov. 13, 2020.

Jim Pace was born in 1961 in Monticello, Mississippi, and his racing career began in the Barber Saab Pro Series in 1988. He soon moved to sports car racing and won the GTU class at the 1990 24 Hours of Daytona. Along with co-drivers Scott Sharp and Wayne Taylor, he drove the Riley & Scott Mk III to victory in the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona. Later that season he competed for the same team in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After years of only driving at the Daytona 24, in which he'd competed 18 times, Pace returned to regular drives in the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class in 2007. In 2008 he drove a Porsche 911 for The Racer's Group and in 2009 drove for Farnbacher Loles Racing.

At one time in his young life, Pace had decided to become a doctor. He majored in pre-med at Mississippi State, then entered the University of Mississippi Medical School in 1983. After three years and three days into medical school, he decided that racing cars would be his life and career.

Pace attended Mississippi State University and resided in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

A more detailed tribute to Pace's life, from his friends and colleagues, Fifty Plus Racing Foundation and Byron DeFoor will be issued in the near future.

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View comments on the CMS forums
Fitzpatrick New Reader
11/16/20 8:27 p.m.

Chattanooga Motorcar Festival.  Barely one year ago.  So glad I was able to meet him in person.  RIP....

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