Know them, love them

These are all of the flags that you will see on-track during a HPDE session, along with some that you may not, but should know about anyways!

Need a copy for yourself? Download here

Flag Name / What It Means What you do

The session has begun or conditions on-track have returned to normal.

Passing is now allowed in designated areas.


CAUTION – no passing, slow down a couple of notches.


Something has happened that makes it unsafe to pass or drive at full-pace.

Ease off the throttle, look ahead, and be cautious.  Identify the incident.


When you see the next flag station that is occupied and not showing any yellow flag, you may resume at-pace/passing/etc.


Don’t slam on the brakes (unless you are in immanent danger of collision).



Rarely (if ever) shown in HPDE situations, but be aware!


CAUTION – no passing, slow down a couple of notches.

A pace car is on-track.


Drive under yellow conditions until you catch up to a single-file line of cars.


Follow the line until you released under Green conditions.  A Black Flag may be shown


CAUTION – something serious has happened on-track.

All cars must stop driving and slowly roll to the nearest occupied corner station for instructions

Don’t slam on the brakes (unless you are in immanent danger of collision).


Ease off the throttle, check mirrors, slow to 3/10ths pace and roll to the next corner station that is occupied, but stay on the racing surface.  Wait for instructions.  Never unbuckle your belts or get out of your car!


If you are “on top” of the incident (but uninvolved), carefully clear the area—Use common sense.

  Emergency Vehicle (EV)

There is a tow truck, ambulance, or other support vehicle on track.


Driving may continue, but at a reduced pace around the EV.


Typically used in conjunction with other hazard flags – the most severe flag always wins.

Ease back to 7/10ths—find the EV, look ahead.


When passing the EV, you will probably have to alter your line.  Slow as much as necessary to make 150%  certain that you will go around the EV/incident without creating another.


You may have to follow the EV through particular corners, depending.  Do not stop or slam on the brakes (insert common-sense caveat here).

  Black (open/waving)

You, yes you: Come into the pits for consultation.  A number board may be shown to clear up confusion.


If displayed at multiple corner stations, or with a board that says “ALL”, it indicates a BLACK FLAG ALL – something has happened that makes it unsafe/undesirable for all cars to proceed.

You did something that the tower didn’t like (spun, passed under yellow, passed in a corner, etc.).  If you catch a string of cars going slow, it’s probably a “ALL” situation.


You don’t need to slow down, but it’s advisable to slow to 7/10ths.  Come into the pits and roll to the black flag station to have a chat.


Hint: the person at black-flag isn’t the one who called you in (don’t yell at the messenger).


Hint #2: the more understanding you are, the more understanding tower will be.  If you really feel like they got the wrong idea, then maybe you can chat with tower during lunch (after taking a breather)

  Black (rolled up, pointing at you)

Tut, tut: tower saw what you just did, but doesn’t need to speak with you

Drive on, but make sure you know what you did that earned you the warning.


If you’re not sure—ask after the session!  The tower will appreciate your interest in seeking to understand.


The black-flag station may wave you over as you exit your session to explain.  See above for helpful hints.

  Debris (Candy Cane)

Something is on the racing surface that doesn’t belong there: gravel, car parts, fluid (including rain), etc.


May be used in conjunction with other flags.

Proceed with caution, look ahead, identify the issue!
It may be necessary to drive off-line to avoid fluid or debris.The flag may be taken down after a lap or two, but that doesn’t mean that the hazard no longer exists!
  Traffic (Passing Flag) – Advisory

Traffic is coming up behind you, or you should probably let that car that’s been following you pass.

Check mirrors, anticipate when the oncoming traffic will catch you, and consider letting the car that’s been pacing you go by on the next passing zone.


Hint: the flag station doesn’t know that you’re doing a lead-follow, or that you may have just passed the car that is currently in your mirrors.


Hint #2: if you are constantly ditching the car behind you in the straights, but they catch you in the corners, they are faster than you!


Hint #3: by anticipating when you will be caught by upcoming traffic, you can plan how you will be passed (to some degree). Use it to your advantage so that it disrupts your lap as little as possible—chances are, it will work out to their advantage, as well.

  Mechanical (Meatball)

There is some issue with your car – come in to the pits.  It could be as simple as a window not rolled down (you still have to come in!) or your car is spewing flames and you haven’t noticed, yet.

Check your mirrors, gauges, and surroundings.  Identify the issue!  If you have flashers-use them!  If not, hold your fist out the window on straightaways.


If your car is leaking fluid get off-line. It may be appropriate for you to drive your car off-track in a safe area to await tow.  Best places: behind an occupied corner worker station, nowhere near corner entry/apex/exit.


Stay in your car, buckled up! (Insert common-sense caveat here)


Last lap – only shown in Time Trial situations, if ever.

Expect to see the Checkered flag next time you pass start-finish.


This is not used in PCA events, but you should be aware of it, in general.


Hint: in PCA races, the start-finish flagger will simply hold out a single finger to indicate the last lap.


Hint #2: the race isn’t over until you cross start-finish under checker (i.e.—the white flag has been shown by mistake before)


Session/race is over – pit at next opportunity


This may be shown at any corner station: typically at start-finish or some half-way point in the track.

Your session is over.  If you receive this at start-finish, continue at-pace for at least half of the track!  Why?  There is another group waiting for you to be off-track.


Once you get halfway around, then dial it back to 5-6/10ths or so.  If your car needs extra coasting to cool off, there is plenty of ring-road for that.

Please do not cause tower to throw the checker earlier next session because cars cannot get off-track on time!

Need a copy for yourself? Download here