Skills and Knowledge
Flags are the primary way track workers and event organizers communicate with drivers on the track. They are mounted at flag stations set beside the track, usually around corners. Not all flag stations will be manned, so on the first lap of your event, make sure to identify which ones are active.
Flags indicate the status of the upcoming section of the track, which lasts until the next manned flag station. For example, a yellow flag means a slowdown is in effect from here until the next manned flag station that does not show a yellow flag.
Flags are generally universal, even used in Formula 1, but the specific meaning may vary depending on the event. Here are the common flags used:
Green flag - Go
Green means everything is normal, and you can go. You will usually see this flag near the track start/finish line.
Blue flag (sometimes with a diagonal yellow stripe) - Passing
There is a faster driver approaching you, please let them overtake at the next safe passing zone.
Standing yellow flag - Caution
Slow down to about 60% speed. There is a hazard on the track ahead, like dirt, gravel, oil, or a car that spun out. Stay alert and do not overtake. Sometimes, there will be a yellow flag with red stripes to indicate dirt, gravel, or oil on track.
For the first lap of the day, there may be yellow flags for the entire length of the track to help drivers identify the flag stations.
Waving yellow flag - High caution
Same as standing yellow, except there is an immediate incident up ahead so be ready to take evasive action.
Black flag - Warning
If you get black flagged, it means something you did is cause for concern (e.g. spinning, going off track, or reckless driving). Pull into the pit lane and talk to the track official. Generally, if you are black flagged 3 times, you’re done for the day.
Waving black flag or black flag at all flag stations - Stop session
Something happened and all drivers must exit the track. Return to pit lane until further instruction.
Black flag with orange circle (Meatball flag) - Mechanical issue
Something is wrong with your vehicle and has been noticed by track staff (e.g. windows not down, trunk unlatched, car smoking). Pull into pit lane and meet with the track official.
Red flag - Stop
An emergency occurred on the track that requires the session to stop (e.g. a tow truck or emergency vehicle needs to enter the track to attend to a crashed car). Pull over to the side of the track within view of a flag station and await further instruction.
Checkered flag - End of session
The session is over. Complete the rest of the lap as cooldown and exit the track at the next opportunity. Do not try to run an extra lap. This will likely earn you a black flag and delay the next group.
You will see this flag at start/finish and sometimes at another flag station on the track.
Remember, different tracks and orgs may have different meanings for the same flags. The event official will generally explain the meanings of different flags at the driver’s meeting.