Attending a track day has always been a goal of mine. I think it’s a goal of many of us car guys. Graduating college, I had school debt up to my ears, and was just getting my feet wet with my first real big boy job. Knowing that track days aren’t the cheapest of hobbies (although it can be done cheaper than you think (hint hint blog coming soon) I made the decision to put off attending my first track event until I was financially able to support the hobby.
Fast forward four years, I signed up for my first event at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah Georgia. Although the story of this could be its entire own blog, I wanted to make a quick reference guide for something that is almost if not the most important of any track day. Knowing your flags. If you were like me, you had really no experience what any of the flags meant besides the checkered flag (I WIN! Just kidding it’s not a race). Attending your first track day is overwhelming. It’s an adrenaline rush of emotions you will never forgot. So many of us think driving a car around a track is easy. Wrong. The biggest takeaway of my first day was knowing your surroundings. With 30 other cars around you, trying to stay on the racing line, knowing what gear to be in, what speed to enter the corner, and listening to the instructor in your ear, the last thing you are looking for are the flags from the corner workers. But these are THE most important thing to keep an eye on, as they are a crystal ball you might say, and are letting you know what’s coming in the future (or around the corner).
At the beginning of every track day in the morning there will be a drivers meeting. Make sure you pay attention to this and don’t blow it off like it’s like high school geography class. The meeting is to inform you about track conditions, safety hazards, and general rules of the day. In fact, I have been on track with drivers, who clearly did not pay attention during that meeting, and have been a hazard on the track. Although track days are generally very safe, this is still a big boys hobby, and people can get hurt. If you want to goof off and play bumper cars, Disney World is open 365 days a year.
Ok, enough of the rant, lets get to the flags and what they mean!
- Track is clear
- Good to drive
YELLOW FLAG (STATIONARY):
- Proceed with caution
- Slow car down
- No passing
YELLOW FLAG (WAVING):
- Problem in immediate area
- Slow car down and be prepared to veer off racing line safely
- No passing
YELLOW FLAG WITH RED STRIPES:
- Alert, debris on the track
- Proceed with extreme caution
BLUE FLAG WITH YELLOW STRIPE:
- Be alert of faster driver behind you
- Point by faster driver in safe passing area
- Slow moving traffic ahead
- Proceed with caution
BLACK FLAG (POINTING AT YOU):
- Problem with your car, proceed to pits safely
- Broken a ground rule, proceed to pits safely
BLACK FLAG (WAVING):
- Entire run group to slow down and proceed to pits safely
BLACK FLAG WITH ORANGE MEATBALL:
- There is an issue on the field, proceed to the pits safely
- Check mirrors and pull over safely to a stop
- End of your run session
- Start cool down lap
At first glance all of this seems like a lot to remember, and it is. Like any other hobby, it takes time. I bet the first time you learned to drive a manual car, you were thinking about each step in your head, but now it comes naturally. Don't let all this information overwhelm you or discourage you from getting out there and attending your first track day. Remember, you will have an instructor to help you, and he is keeping an eye on the all the flags as well. Awareness is one of the biggest takeaways you can have from high performance driving. Study up, and get out there!
Build It. Race It.