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Friday, August 7, 2009

Green Racing Flag - Flag Talk - Driver Training

Green Racing Flag Driver Training Corner Worker

Green Means Go, But It's A Lot More Involved Than That

Since much of our last content on actual driving tips had started to center around racing and what is involved in the sport, this month we'll take it a step further and look at some of the elements of on-track activity, specifically flags and what they mean to event organizer, dedicated corner worker and of course those valiant drivers. Basically, flags are used to give critical information to drivers, and depending on those flags, that information can be directed at the entire group on track, a small group of drivers or even a single driver. Most flags are typically displayed at the discretion of the chief steward of the event or their equivalent, although many of the corner workers can display flags based on their own information on that section of the circuit. Also, there is some ambiguity to the meaning of flags, and it's typically noticed when a driver moves from one sanctioning body to another-or even from one region in the country to another-but there are some common themes.

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.It's funny how things in life evolve, especially when you don't really notice the evolution, and particularly when someone new to your scenario has to point it out. Case in point would be my little slice of heaven here in the Modified world, where, as of the last couple of years, I've been driving some of the coolest modded cars around my local Phoenix community and then offering my opinions on those machines. For those of you who have been reading this column long enough and to those detail-oriented folks who have noticed the title of my column and recently written in wondering how things relate, we are going to start adding a fewer more tips to the content of the prose under the "driving tips" label. Don't fret, though, we will still continue to offer more driver evaluations in the months to come.

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