While there is a set of rules for racing flags, they aren’t written down. Instead, teams assign their own meanings to each flag. Knowing the meaning of the flags is important to a competitive race, and this is often the easiest way to understand why flags are flown at a certain time during a race.
In addition to the 15 different flags, the game also utilizes a number of different colors for text boxes, including blue and green.
NASCAR has some colorful flags. Some of them mean something, some of them mean nothing, and some of them mean something else entirely. Here’s a breakdown of what every NASCAR flag means.
The History of Flags in Auto Racing
The NASCAR Flags
The flagman must keep track of all the flags flying on the track and make sure that the correct flags are pointed in the right direction for the upcoming race. The flagman also has to track the location of any caution flags, such as debris caution flags, and relay that information to the drivers on pit road to prevent drivers from ignoring them.
For the first time, NASCAR decided to start displaying flags on the checkered flags following their race.
The green flag is waved once to start an event and may be waved multiple times to signal the green flag is back in play. The green flag is waved when the race commences after a caution period or restart. The green flag is also waved when a driver takes the lead of the race.
If an incident occurs on the track during a NASCAR race, the caution flag comes up when the officials decide that there is still debris on the track, and the race must be stopped for safety concerns. The pace car will then lead all the cars off the track in order to clear the debris.
Red flags are flags that need to be stopped, and not all red flags have to be restarted. If an incident is very severe, it may be necessary to stop all races, instead of just the caution period, and then restart all the races as normal.
Some drivers have been shown the black flag early in a race because they have committed a foul or illegal move while on the track. Once the driver is in the pits, he or she may get a penalty or have to retire from the race.
Since NASCAR uses the blue flag to warn drivers that the track might be damaged or disabled, they often use it to signal other drivers to avoid debris that they may not see until the last minute. It’s an important safety precaution for drivers to look out for these obstacles.
Â The race’s final lap gives the drivers one last chance to win. They can use the last couple of turns to speed up and end the race first.
Blue Flag with a Yellow Stripe
This flag serves the same function as the blue flag and should not be flown during the race except in case of an emergency. This flag is similar to the blue flag except it is white; in the UK it is commonly known as a yellow flag.
Red Flag with a Diagonal Yellow Stripe
This flag, a variant of the “All Clear” signal, is flown from the “flag box”. The flag is flown when the pit road is open, indicating that crews are removing flags from previous laps.
Black Flag with Crossed White Stripes
This flag indicates that an accident has occurred and a driver has been trapped in his car. The race marshals are on the scene.
Yellow and Red Striped Flag
Officials wave this unique flag on road courses to tell drivers they have debris on the track.
Green and White Checkered Flag
The end of a race means that the leaders are going to start earning points which helps to advance them towards the playoffs.
Black and White Checkered Flag
The white flag is a signal that something is about to happen, or that something has changed.
White flag etiquette is to not wave the flag on a windy day.
Red and Black Flag Together
While waving this flag, the flagman signals an end to the current practice session or qualifying session and requests a brief break.
Two Checkered Flags Together
There are times when you see a checkered flag waving twice, with a few laps to go, or just after the halfway point. This most commonly shows when there is more than one winner, or when the driver behind the leader has passed and is now closing on the leader.
Racing is about precision, but it’s also about speed and the ability to react to something unexpected. With the right training, and the right resources, a spotter can help guide a driver through the course.