Sometimes life takes some strange twists and turns. Wilmot Raceway planned to run the Diamond Jim 43 race on Sunday, May 16 to honor the man. Instead, it will be a celebration and memorial of Diamond Jim's life.
"Not a lot of races that are for a guy that's still alive," Diamond Jim's owner, racer and son Turk Letizia says. "We didn't make it to the 43rd one."
Wilmot Raceway planned to honor Diamond Jim Letizia in person.
"43 years in the car sales business. 43 years of driving a race car," Wilmot Raceway Promoter Nick Simons says. "I guess you could say 43 years of living the American dream."
Instead, the Diamond 43 will be held in his honor after his unexpected passing last month.
"Just people reaching out you know and, at first it was, you know, is the event going to go on? And the answer is absolutely yes," Simons says.
Jim's son Turk proudly displays the car his family gave his dad.
"Well my brother bought it and stumbled across it and you can't get them," Letizia says. "And bought it and was going to let dad drive it and play with it and have fun with it. And he never got to, but the kids, myself, my sister, my brother will play with it. Drive it. And have some fun with it and think of him while we're driving it."
So now will race day help ease the pain?
"Sure hope so!" Letizia says. "Sure hope so. But yeah, the race happens to be on May 16. It's my mother's birthday so we can have a nice big race. Celebrate my mother's birthday and have a good time hopefully."
The race will pay $4,300 to the winner, and $430 just to start, all to honor Diamond Jim's 43 years of racing and love of cars. God bless the American dream.