Marinus makes history for Tri-Point Motorsports in Puerto Rico October 26, 2003. San Juan, Puerto Rico. After flirting with the feat several times during the season, Shauna Marinus would finally enter the record books as the first woman driver...
Marinus makes history for Tri-Point Motorsports in Puerto Rico
October 26, 2003. San Juan, Puerto Rico. After flirting with the feat several times during the season, Shauna Marinus would finally enter the record books as the first woman driver to earn a pole position in SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car competition. Hopes that she would back it up with a victory fell short though as mechanical troubles would cut short her race, as well as the race of her Tri-Point Motorsports teammate, Jeff Altenburg, in the season finale in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Despite our difficulties in the race this has been a tremendous weekend," Marinus explained. "We have been so close to that first pole position all year, and it was an amazing feeling knowing I had finally done it and would be starting at the front of the field. I have to thank Mazda, Tri-Point and everyone who has supported me through the years."
In four previous events this season, Marinus had been edged out of the pole position by a combined time of 0.545-second, however she was not to be denied at this event, posting the fastest time for the session on her third fast lap with a time of 1:15.585 around the 1.6-mile circuit in her Tri-Point Motorsports Mazdaspeed Protege. Altenburg would also find success during the qualifying session with the second fastest time of 1:15.599, making it an all Tri-Point front row.
Rain left teams with a challenging tire decision for the start of the race, and Tri-Point gambled that a dry line would form and went with the regular dry tires, unfortunately, both Marinus and Altenburg would be forced to drop out of the event early before the gamble could pay off. Marinus would be the first to succumb when transmission problems struck on lap three while she was leading the event.
Altenburg's exit from the event was much more dramatic. After slipping back a bit early in the race with brake bias problems, and with fumes in the car from a broken exhaust, Altenburg had figured out how to drive around the problems and was working his way back through the field when a fuel line, melted by the exhaust, caught fire. "When the fire started, it was outside the driver's side of the car and I had to exit through it," Altenburg explained. "My HANS snagged on the window net for a moment, making my eyebrows crispy, and then I was out. The extreme heat of the fire led me to drop and roll since the heat may have been burning fuel on my suit. Luckily, that wasn't the case. The fire crews put the fire out quickly, and the car was not damaged more than cosmetically."
With victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as well as podium finishes at both Road Atlanta events as well as Infineon Raceway, Altenburg wraps up the season sixth overall in the championship, while Marinus, who also had podium finishes at Road Atlanta and Infineon Raceway, finishes the season twelfth overall.