Auto Racing Flags and What They Mean

Mar 3rd, 2017

Flags are used in auto racing to warn drivers of track conditions. Most flags have become standardized across Motorsports.


In general, flag stands for race starters are located near the start/finish line and are used by race starters to wave flags. Track marshals are located at observation posts along the track to provide additional communication with drivers. On tracks that use lights at the start/finish line to supplement the race starter flags instead of track marshals.


Following is the most widely accepted meaning of the individual race flags.


Race Starter Flags



A checkered flag is used to indicate that the race has ended. Once that flag is displayed at the start/finish line, as each driver crosses that line, he or she must slow down and return to his or her pit.



The solid green flag indicates that the track is clear and signals the start of the race. It is also displayed after a delay or a caution period to indicate that the race is restarted.



A solid red flag indicates that the race has been stopped. Depending on the race, it could mean that cars are to proceed to the pit, or that they should stop where they are at. Conditions that can stop races include rain, multi-car crash or a course blocked by debris or other hazards.


Note: Solid White flag is the same shape as the other flags listed here


A solid white flag is used to indicate that the final lap of the race is in progress, or that there is an official car moving below normal speed on the track.



The solid yellow flag indicates caution. Drivers must slow down and are prohibited from passing. The flag is waved when there is a hazard on the track. For example, debris, stopped car or an accident.



A yellow flag with red stripes on it indicates that track conditions have changed and traction could be affected. For example, oil or debris.


The above definitions are general. Some races have added meanings for the flags. There are also flags that are designed to communicate directly with racecar drivers. For example, when a problem is detected by officials or the driver’s pit crew. Those flags will be covered in a separate blog post.


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