SHAUNA MARINUS TO CONTEST TOURING CAR TITLE WITH TC KLINE IN 2000 TOP WOMAN DRIVER TO LEAD FOUR-CAR TEAM ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Shauna Marinus, of Folsom, Calif., will attempt to become the first woman to win the Speedvision World Challenge...
SHAUNA MARINUS TO CONTEST TOURING CAR TITLE WITH TC KLINE IN 2000 TOP WOMAN DRIVER TO LEAD FOUR-CAR TEAM
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Shauna Marinus, of Folsom, Calif., will attempt to become the first woman to win the Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car Championship in 2000, campaigning the No. 21 BMW 328ci as part of a new four-car team from TC Kline Racing.
Marinus, 31, will be the second woman to campaign an entire World Challenge season. Kathryn "Kat" Teasdale was the first, finishing sixth in the 1991 point standings with a best finish of second.
"This is so exciting," said Marinus. "If you asked me a couple of years ago if I'd be in the World Challenge, I'd have said there was no way to make it possible."
Marinus started her racing career the day she was to have graduated from Bella Vista High School in 1986, completing an SCCA Club Racing Drivers' School at Sears Point Raceway in her Datsun 240Z. After realizing road racing cost more than someone just out of high school could afford, she focused on her career, eventually opening her own beauty salon, which she still owns today.
Marinus began to focus on autocrossing in SCCA Solo 2 competition, where she excelled, winning three-straight Solo 2 National Championships from 1992 to 1994. Her Solo career culminated in 1998, when she became the first woman in the event's 26-year history to win a Solo 2 National Championship in an open class (women have their own classes in Solo competition), earning her Driver of the Year honors in the process.
T.C. Kline, a veteran driver and team owner with six professional championships to his credit (four in Firestone Firehawk, two in the North American Touring Car Championship), had his eye on Marinus throughout her solo career, and decided it was time to get her back on a racetrack.
"I've known Shauna for 10 years through her autocrossing," said Kline. "Her win in the open class convinced me, so we tested her in a race car at Laguna Seca late in 1998. She's a natural. She's got great car control and understands the dynamics of driving. Her ability to go around the race track has never been an issue, so we decided to do a full season of SCCA Nationals to get her experience in traffic."
Marinus finished ninth in Showroom Stock B in the Central Division driving a TC Kline BMW Z3. At the 1999 Valvoline Runoffs, she qualified 15th out of 45 cars, but had her race cut short by an early-race accident in treacherous conditions.
Marinus also competed in the Women's Global GT Series in 1999 at the Road Atlanta season opener, where she captured the series' first pole position and set the race's fastest lap.
"I like the progression in the Speedvision World Challenge rules," said Kline. "[General Manager] Mitch [Wright] is keeping a lid on things. The combination of the rules and the series' new alignment with the American Le Mans Series interested me, and led to my decision to run World Challenge in 2000."
Kline and Marinus hope to follow the 2000 season in the Speedvision Touring Car with a season in the Speedvision GT in 2001, running the new BMW M3 (E46 body). Future aspirations also include competing in the American Le Mans Series and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"I definitely want to be competitive on the level of the American Le Mans Series as well as the World Challenge," said Marinus. "I have no real interest in open-wheel racing, though. I think my ultimate goal would be to compete in a Touring Car race in Europe."
Kline plans to run a total of four cars in the 2000 Speedvision World Challenge -- three in Touring Car and one in GT. BMW Club racer Dick Grieser, of Toledo, Ohio is slated to drive the No. 18 BMW M3, with the other two Touring Car drivers to be announced at a later date.
"We're happy to welcome TC Kline Racing back after its hiatus from professional racing," said Mitch Wright, Speedvision World Challenge General Manager. "The team has always raised the level of competition in whichever series they've competed, and the addition of an up-and-coming female driver like Shauna Marinus will bring new exposure and fans to the series."
While the team's season plans are set, it is still seeking sponsorship for all four cars.
Seven women have competed in the World Challenge series since its inception in 1990, including Margie Eatwell, Roberta Jesberger, Laura Lane, Melanie Snow, Kat Teasdale, Julie Wilkinson and Desire Wilson. Snow is the only woman to ever win a World Challenge race, taking the S1 Class win at Sears Point in 1996.
The Speedvision Touring Car Championship is the "Official Racing Series of the Sports Compact Revolution." Together with its sister series, the Speedvision GT Championship, the two make up the Speedvision World Challenge -- the fast-paced, ultracompetitive Championships which bring the best production car-based sprint road racing to top venues across North America and into the homes of millions through the Speedvision Network. For more information on the Speedvision World Challenge, visit www.sccapro.com/wc.