From SCCA Flagger to F1 Marshall – Tarin Finn’s Incredible Adventure

It’s a pretty distinguished list, the people who have climbed the ladder from SCCA® to Formula One. Some of the notables include Dan Gurney, Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Phil Hill, and Tarin Finn.

Wait, Tarin Finn?

Don’t look for Finn among the driver championship points, because you won’t find her. But you will find her trackside at the May 3-5, 2024, Miami Grand Prix.

Finn is the Florida Region flag chief by day (well, that and her day job), but has parlayed her Flagging & Communications career at the SCCA level into a gig as Formula One flag marshal. To say it’s gone well is an understatement – she was recognized as Marshal of the Week at last year’s Miami F1 race, complete with a photo and meet-and-greet with the podium drivers.

So how did Finn go from Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tours to Formula One – is she better than every other SCCA F&C worker? She’s certainly good at her job, but that’s not really it. No, her secret was hard work. She didn’t jump directly to the international stage – she did the same thing many SCCA F&C workers do: She went to as many events as possible.

“SCCA is absolutely the first step, in my opinion, to prepare for major pro events,” Finn says. “You get hands-on training on what being a flag marshal is all about. Although the FIA flagging is a bit different than SCCA flagging as far as what the flags mean, SCCA gives you the knowledge and logistics of being a flag marshal.”

She’s built a reputation as a person who is not only a great flagger, but is knowledgeable and friendly off the track. “Another opportunity is mingling and networking,” she says. “There’s a saying in SCCA that we come for the racing and stay for the people. I know Don Drennon, our beloved leader, reminds us of this all the time. We’re essentially a family. The more I venture out to other [SCCA] Regions, the more family members I meet.”

And just like a driver who may start in a lower tier team before earning the opportunity with a championship contender, Finn has worked her way through the flag sequence, so to speak. “We don’t have assignments just yet for the upcoming [Miami] GP, but the first year, I did red, safety car sign, white, and debris flags,” she says. “Last year, I was blue flagger. I’m hoping to be yellow flagger this year, but we shall see.”

With Formula One booming in popularity stateside, she’s seen the influx of both fans and interested workers. In that vein, Finn wants to stress that the journey to F1 may not happen overnight, and it’s much more rewarding if that happens as part of the journey rather than as a be-all and end-all. And it’s been quite the journey over her 18 years as a flag marshal, which includes IMSA and Trans Am events as well.

What does she recommend as the first step in your pro flagging journey?

“First thing is to contact your local [SCCA] flag chief,” Finn explains. “Your flag chief will let you know when the next event is. Then just show up and volunteer. You don’t need to have any experience to volunteer. The flag chief will place you with a corner captain who will give you hands-on training. The second thing is to do the F&C class on to obtain your certified Regional license. You must be a member to take this class. The third thing is to keep showing up and volunteering. Venture out to other [SCCA] Regions to get more training. Learn more tracks and meet more people. Getting to the pros may not happen overnight – it takes time and dedication.”

But it will be the experience of a lifetime.

Interested in taking your first steps toward a World Championship (err, at least a World Championship event)? If you’re not an SCCA member, join today – then head to the Trackside page and start your adventure.

Photo caption: As Marshal of the Week, Tarin Finn was able to meet Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez, and Max Verstappen at the 2023 Miami Grand Prix.
Photo courtesy Tarin Finn