There are several flags that can potentially be thrown during a race, so we will cover a few of them in this installment and then carry over to next month with the remaining info. In the interests of simplicity-and to keep some consistency in our discussion-we're going to look at what the flags mean in terms of sanctioned road racing (not to be confused with that inane act of peckerwood measuring that is Friday night street racing).
Because it often represents the beginning of things to come-and is arguably everyone's favorite flag-let's start with the green flag, what it means and some of the driver strategy involved with it. It should be pretty obvious that green means "go," and the green flag dropped at a racetrack offers no exception to that rule. It is used to indicate that the track is open for drivers to run their cars at speed, that there are no apparent obstacles on circuit and that a driving session has officially started. Of course, the green flag is also thrown to signify the start of a race or the resumption of a race already in progress-commonly referred to as a restart.
How you react to the green flag is dependent on the sanctioning body rules regarding that flag and your particular situation. Let's take the start of a race as an example. Since in most race series the race is started in what we call a parade lap, with cars closely packed together in two rows, it can actually be pretty hard to tell that the flag has been thrown at all; it can be that hard to see through traffic. However, once you are aware that the green is out to indicate the start of a race, then obviously it is a free for all at that point, right? Well, not exactly.