Racing Flag Colors and Their Meaning During the Race

Updated on January 17, 2019
All forms of racing use flags to signal the riders.
All forms of racing use flags to signal the riders. | Source

In all forms of car and motorcycle racing, the track crew uses flags to signal the riders of track and corner conditions. Every organization is different and uses a variation of the flags to convey their own meaning, but for the most part, many flags are the same. With modern-day radio communication, many of the flags are more ceremonial, but they continue to be used, assuming that racers are watching and paying attention to the track workers.

The following table outlines the basic racing flags.

Basic Racing Flags and Their Messages

Expected Rider Behavior
Give way to faster riders
Move off the racing line and allow faster riders to pass
Race start/all clear
Start the race/keep racing
Final lap
Race only one more lap
End of the race
Race is over
Problem with rider's equipment or behavior
Pull off the racing line ASAP, and then exit the track safely
Black with orange circle
Pull in the pits to serve a penalty
Checkered and white rolled and crossed
Race is halfway complete
Race the next half of the race
Race is stopped
Signal, Slow down, Spread out
Safety concern
Watch out for an on track incident
White with red plus
Ambulance/safety car
Either the ambulance or safety car is rolling or parked on track

Racing Flag Meanings

Green Flag: Most times it only signals the start of the race. Some race orgs will leave it displayed in a corner to show that everything is clear, but the lack of the green flag in this situation has no meaning.

Yellow Flag: A rider has crashed and parts of their vehicle or body are on the racing surface or in the crash zone. Proceed with heightened caution. Some organizations do not allow passing from the showing of the yellow flag to the incident. This can lead to ambiguity if there are multiple incidents on the track. Some race organizations use two yellow flags to symbolize "full course caution," instead of a yellow flag for only a single corner.

Blue Flag: "There's a race, you're not in it" is the common mantra of the recipient of this flag. The rider is often being lapped by the leaders, and should be mindful and respect them. Failure to heed the blue flag could result in being "black flagged."

Black Flag: There is a problem with the vehicle (smoking, losing parts, etc.) or maybe the rider forgot to strap their helmet. In NASCAR, the pit crew often leaves a tool attached to the car, like the wedge adjustment tool. Behavioral problems, like crashing into someone can lead to being "black flagged."

Red Flag: The red flag signals that there is a significant problem on the track and the race needs to stop. The problem with this is that all of the riders need to see it at the same time. Consider a situation where two riders are drafting, and the first rider sees it and checks up, but the second rider is so "heads down" that he slams into the leading, checked up rider. Thus, it is very important to continue at pace until it is safe to decelerate. This is the same for the checkered flag at the end of the race. Many riders will signal with a hand or foot prior to changing their pace. This is where the "signal, slow down, spread out" mantra originates.

Debris Flag: Some race organizations will use a "debris flag," which can be used to symbolize objects/bodies on course, slippery conditions (rocking), or rain (pointing to the sky).

White and Checkered Rolled and Crossed: Race is halfway complete.

White Flag: One lap remaining.

Checkered Flag: Race is over.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • What does the Scotland flag (Blue with white X) mean in racing?

    Race orgs, tracks, and safety teams use different flags to.signify different things. Blue flags in the US typically mean that the leaders are approaching.

    If it has a white X In it, it might be that or could be a special debris flag. Not sure where you saw it.

  • What does the blue and white flag stand for in races?

    Different organizations may have a variation of the flags. I would assume that they would use the blue with white the same way just a blue flag would be. To make it worse, some flag crews are hired by the track, so it could be specific to that crew, the track, the org, etc.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)