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Flags are used in racing and during track days to indicate track conditions and to communicate important messages to drivers. Typically, the marshal of a race, waves the flags atop a flag stand near the start/finish line.  Corner workers are also stationed at observation posts along the racetrack in order to communicate both local and course-wide conditions to drivers.

Green flag

[Green Race tire Flag]

The starter to indicate the start of a race usually displays the solid green flag. During a race, it is displayed at the end of a caution period or a temporary delay to indicate that the race is restarting.  If the race is not under caution or delayed, it is said to be under green-flag conditions, though the flag is not actually displayed.  A green flag at the entrance to the pits may indicate that the pits are open.

[Yellow Race Tire Flag]

Yellow flag

The solid yellow flag, or caution flag, universally requires drivers to slow down due to a hazard on the track.  A yellow flag displayed at the starter's stand or a corner station indicates that there is a hazard downstream of the station. The manner of display depends on the location of the hazard:  (i) a single waved flag denotes a hazard on the racing surface itself; and (ii) two flags waved simultaneously denotes a hazard that wholly or partly blocks the racing surface.  This informs the driver that there may be marshals on the track and to prepare to stop, if necessary.  When shown at a station, drivers are prohibited from passing until either the hazard or the next flag station displaying a green flag (signifying the end of a cautionary section) is passed. 

Red and yellow striped flag [Debris race tire flag]

The yellow and red striped flag is displayed stationary at local flag stations to indicate that track conditions have changed due tosubstances on the track which could reduce grip or cause a car to lose control—generally oil, coolant, small pieces of debris or sand. It can also be "rocked" back and forth (but not waved) to indicate a small animal on the racing surface. Many organizations will display this flag for only two laps, after which the changed surface is considered to merely be "part of the track".

[Red race tire flag]

Red flag
The solid red flag is displayed when conditions are too dangerous to continue the session.  The cars are directed to proceed to pit road, or to stop at a specific spot. There are several hazards that might cause a need to delay or prematurely end a session. Many hazards, such as rain, darkness, a blocked course (due to debris, water, or safety vehicles), a car on fire, or a multi-car crash might prompt officials to call for the red flag.

[White race tire flag]

White flag

The white flag can indicate either the last lap of the race or track session or that there is a slow moving vehicle on the track and to be aware of traffic ahead.

[Black race tire flag]

Black flag
The solid black flag is used to summon a driver to the pits. It is usually used to punish a driver or team for disobeying the rules, but may also be used when a car is suffering a dangerous mechanical failure, such as a loose hood or dragging bumper, or even calling a driver to the pits when their radio is not working. The driver is given a chance to repair the car and get it up to standard.

[Meatball race tire flag]

Black flag with orange circle

A black flag with an orange disk in its center indicates that a car is being summoned to the pits due to mechanical problems that are interfering with the race, such as an oil, water, or fuel leak. It is sometimes referred to as the "meatball" flag.

[Passing race tire flag]

Blue flag with yellow stripe
A blue flag, with a diagonal yellow stripe, informs a driver that a faster car is approaching and that the driver should move aside to allow one or more faster cars to pass.  During a race, this would usually only be shown to a driver getting lapped.  

[Checkered race tire flag]

Checkered flag

The checkered flag is displayed at the start/finish line to indicate that the track session / race is officially finished.  Upon seeing the checkered flag and crossing the finish line, drivers are required to slow to a safe speed, finish the cool down lap(s) and exit the track at pit in and return to their garage or the paddock.