Turn station zones for purposes of flagging, particularly yellow flags

Randy Blaylock

Highlander Motorsports
In my time as License Director, on a few occasions when I have worked a turn, and as a driver receiving a donut for a pass under yellow, I have always wondered what the "zone", so to speak, was for each turn station at each track Conference regularly runs.

It matters, because flag officials, and drivers for that matter, have to have a clear understanding where each and every area of coverage for each turn station begins and ends. It cannot be an arbitrary and moving target, safety dictates this.

For example, at Pacific Raceways Turn 8, where does this station's coverage area begin and end? Does it begin on an imaginary line that passes through the turn station on a sight line coming from turn station 7, as logic suggests, or is it some other place? Where is this? If there is a single station yellow displayed at T8, where is it OK to complete a pass, and where is it not? Where does the T8 zone end? Is it at a line drawn perpendicular across the racing surface at the Turn 9 station?

For the occasions in the future when I work turns, and as a driver on the track when there is a single station yellow flag condition, I would really like to know exactly where these zones are. These must be published somewhere, no?
 
Darn fine question, Randy. And something that is worth discussing on every Saturday morning Novice track tour. Every turn has a unique area of coverage. Some more challenging than the other.

The commonly accepted imaginary line from the 'plane' of the flag is perpendicular to the track edge from the station, or closest assumption of perpendicular. An example might be T6 at PIR where the flag station, though distant from the racing surface, is essentially the apex of the turn. Or a line straight from the flag in the station to the visual middle of the turn, or the split on drivers' left. T8 at Pacific is pretty much off of the left shoulder of the flagger (who is facing traffic and hoping to catch your eyes as you exit T7) straight across and perpendicular to the track at the percieved entrance of the turn (Which may be just about where you might start your turn-in). If the flag is beyond your peripheral vision, you are in the 'zone'.

The end of the flag's 'zone of jurisdiction' would be to the plane of the next flag at the following station on the circuit.

I hope that gives you a good perception of how we try to apply our flagging and where we might consider a pass under yellow as completed, or incomplete.

PUY's being the bane of most racers this kind of information is important especially to those who have not had much racing or flagging experience at a given track. It really is much easier to see it as you stand in the station and consider the direction of the cars, their attitudes on track in relation to your line of sight, and where the drivers' eyes my be looking to get to their next 'mark'.

The placement of stations is not always conducive to all of these factors, but we do what we can to accomodate. There is no real joy, or feeling of satisfaction in writing those reports other than doing it right and because it became necessary. Practice, practice, practice.

I'll look around for some 'black and white' explanation, like the last version of the ROD Handbook... but after reviewing this document, I find that there is much in error and I'm happy not to use it much in it's present state.

But understand that sometimes these things have to be applied as consistently as the terrain and our training allows. What I have described is how I have been and do train people in the application of the flags, so might be considered consistent with operations through the Conference. Much like the difference between displaying a standing, or waving yellow which, in the rules consider a level of hazard but requires some artistic license to consider that a standing would tell a driver that the hazard is off, on, returning to course or a safety marshal is outside of a protected area.

Thank you for asking.
 
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Randy Blaylock

Highlander Motorsports
Right on Ken, thanks for responding.

I agree this would be valuable data for novices, this was a question for me that I never found the time to follow up on :).

I believe there would be tremendous value to publishing a document for drivers and turn workers alike, or maybe adding these into the Conference Rule Book for reference. Format it perhaps with alternating shaded and non shaded areas overlayed onto track maps, indicating whatever consensus the veteran turn officials come to as to exactly where these zones are?

I say this because I have asked this question in passing on several occasions to several different people, and have never gotten a very good, and certainly not a consistent answer.

Seems kind of important to me, and would go some distance to reducing the debate about whether or not a driver did fail to respect the command flag.

Cheers
 

Richard Broadhead

Flag & Com
....The commonly accepted imaginary line from the 'plane' of the flag is perpendicular to the track edge from the station, or closest assumption of perpendicular. An example might be T6 at PIR where the flag station, though distant from the racing surface, is essentially the apex of the turn. Or a line straight from the flag in the station to the visual middle of the turn, or the split on drivers' left. T8 at Pacific is pretty much off of the left shoulder of the flagger (who is facing traffic and hoping to catch your eyes as you exit T7) straight across and perpendicular to the track at the percieved entrance of the turn (Which may be just about where you might start your turn-in). If the flag is beyond your peripheral vision, you are in the 'zone'.

The end of the flag's 'zone of jurisdiction' would be to the plane of the next flag at the following station on the circuit..

But keep in mind, the above zone of jurisdiction is indeed factual. But for yellow flags, you are only under yellow flag restrictions until you pass the incident causing the yellow flag and NOT all the way to the next station.
 

colin_koehler

Great SCOTT!
Randy,

I have always considered the beginning point as a perpendicular to the track. I could see how it would be a wise a thing to put it in writing in case someone gets penalized for it incorrectly and wants to dispute the fine. Most of us have cameras now so it makes things pretty definitive regarding evidence.

Here's what I have pertinent to the discussion regarding Pacific Raceways, what do you think?:




Just about all the stations at Portland were obvious to me like her at T7... Sure there's a little area up for debate but a pretty narrow margin of when it begins and most of the time this station isn't manned anyway:



But Turn 6 at PIR leaves some room for debate... What do you think it is? The red line or the green line?


I think T6 is the Green Line but when I see the Yellow flag displayed I err on the side of the Red line.
 

Safety 3/Radio Dave

Well-known member
Colin In referance to your pictures, at Pacific, T-8 for SCCA and SOVREN, we have for years used the 'zone' just as you show. T-2 would also start there zone at the entrance to the turn ending at the exit which is where T-2b is.

When I worked flags at Portland, I was also reminded the the 'zone' for T-6 started directly in front of the station to the end of the left wall across track, this is just to the right of your red line, and if T-7 was in use, then the end of the 'zone was at the center of the turn, which is in a direct line from T-6 station to T-7 station.

Several years ago when I worked flags with IRDC, I was told that the same 'zones' were in play.

Richard B made the remark that the 'zone' But for yellow flags, you are only under yellow flag restrictions until you pass the incident causing the yellow flag and NOT all the way to the next station.

Maybe true, maybe not, depending on were in the 'zone' the incendent is, but you still have to remember that until you get to the next turn station, you are still in the 'zone' controled by the last turn station.
 

db1

A.F.T.
In response to Colin's post, I flag the zones the way you see them, and I would (and have) used the red line for T6 in Portland. My reasoning is twofold, T4 may not be able to clearly see all they way to the green line, and for the drivers, I'd like to advise them if a car has spun in the area between the two lines, while they're looking right at the T6 station.
 

Randy Blaylock

Highlander Motorsports
Great work Colin. Love the illustrations.

Your PIR T6 example is exactly why I'd like to see the zones defined exactly, and published. The difference between the two lines looks like at least 8 car lengths, and that's way too much gray area. I personally would prefer that your green line be the beginning of the zone for T6, and here's why. If the zone begins at the red line, any cars behind the lead car coming around T5 will have the flag station obscured by the car in front of them because of how far away the station is from the circuit. At the point of turn in, if your eyes aren't looking hard driver's left, you're not able to react to spins or whatever. And as soon as the car you're passing turns in, then is your first opportunity to have a line of sight to a station that's a long distance away. If the green line is the threshold, there is at least a possibility that you can back out of an overtaking move.

Regarding PR T8, my conclusion when I was working that station was that my zone in T8 station began following where T7 station sight ended, which if one plotted a line from T7 through T8, then the zones would intersect at least halfway around the turn. The difference between where you show the line in the pic, and my assumption, is, again, a pretty big difference.

Now, I think we all agree we shouldn't be pushing things that tightly anyhow under yellow flag conditions, but there are circumstances where it could really matter.

Just now seeing what David wrote, I understand his rationale, and get why he flags the way he does. Thing is, as a driver I haven't had access to this before, and from just a few posts on this subject there is obviously lots of room for interpretation.

I would love it if the veteran turn officials were agreeable to applying their expertise to this question, and publishing the results. I believe it would go a long way towards reducing misunderstandings, assumptions, and ultimately be a big benefit.
 
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Richard Broadhead

Flag & Com
Actually, the green line for Turn 8 is just a touch too early. If you angled it more up almost across the first white hash line across the track that would be closer to reality. If you went by the green line, the number of passes under yellow would triple and that is still a zone that Turn 7 should react to first.

We used to have the turn 8 station rotated slightly so the yellow was hung out perpendicular to the track at about that angle. But, somebody keeps insisting on rotating the station too far clockwise.

When most of us who know T-8 well are out there it takes us about 45 minutes to get the ground crew to rotate the station back where it belongs. It should also be back toward the 7 to 8 straight to put the flags more in line with drivers line of site.
 
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That's good stuff, Colin. And good training fodder for both drivers and flaggers. Remembering of course, that the perception of a driver in motion is going to be very different than a stationary flagger. Flying up to that line in the heat of battle for position can still bite you with a PUY if you are anywhere close to those unofficially documented "imaginary" borders of flagging zones.

As I said, every turn is unique and we, both driver and flagger, use whatever skill sets that we have established to attempt to remain consistent in our application. The photos will not stand up in a court of Steward... just sayin'. But it's important to have a good idea just what kind of dynamics are at work when defining flagging zones and we're better for the illustrations to help inform and maintain that consistency.

Thank you for that.

And to all past, present and future PUYers. DON'T. Just drop in line and be patient until you've passed ALL of the incidents, or the following station not displaying another yellow (which could be waving). Randy knows how to do that. Let him tell you how.

Side by side through the incident/yellow flag zone may not be a pass (although by the book it is "passing") and may well be reported and written up as "hazardous" or "unsafe" driving. Not a PUY. And if it's my turn station, the chances are very good that it will. I equate it to speeding through a construction zone. I have, too many times, been situated in a rescue/recovery situation and observed much stupidity to feel any other way about it. It doesn't scare me, just the lack of consideration and respect ticks me totally off the grid. And no Steward, past, present, or future wants to hear the verbal report that may accompany my written one.
 
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Talk about blind turns and where drivers reacts to the flag that they sees ahead of him knowing at what point within that zone the incident has occurred. Visibilty is restricted by either catch fence concrete and some elevation at T6 PIR, and a great big hill at T6 PacRways. How long to react and take an evasive?
 
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Okay, here's another one. ORP >>
http://oregonraceway.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/orp_track_map-outline-v2-.pdf

T13 where T12(?) is about the top of that hill. No one wants to loose any momentum until you get over the top, but when do you first see the flag... any flag (driver's left)? It's all downhill from there.

BTW, It could be a Safety vehicle coming out of the North Loop station. Flagging is important to whomever happens to be sitting in that vehicle. More important than the flashy lights, I believe. But no more important than the drivers' reactions to those signals.

What color do you make that line?
 

annpbc

New member
Ken - I noticed your comment about the ROD handbook earlier in this thread. I will put that on the agenda for the ROD meeting next month. We can also bring up the yellow flag zone topic at that meeting.
 

racerx69

Gear Jammer/IBEW Retired
I always thought it was very simple and straightforward. When (as a driver) you see a yellow flag you respond accordingly.

I'll repeat for those who don't get it.

AS SOON AS YOU OBSERVE A YELLOW FLAG YOU MUST RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.

Nothing was ever said about imaginary lines and geometry. It is all about the turn workers communicating to drivers approaching any hazardous situation.

Standing yellow means to dial it back an proceed with caution. Waving yellow means there is a hazardous situation, and the driver is obligated to slow as quickly and safely a possible, and be prepared to stop.

Of course anytime a yellow flag is displayed, no passing is allowed.

And only after passing the next turn station which is not displaying a yellow flag should any driver consider it safe to resume competition.

These rules are all about ensuring the safety of the turn workers, aid and tow crews, and all competitors.

In the 20 odd years that I raced with Conference and SCCA there was never a single race where some idiot failed to observe a yellow flag. Not one. In over 400 races I witnessed passing under yellow and failure to respect the safety of all involved in every one. This also happens in practice and qualifying sessions.

I reported drivers to the stewards. The issue was brought up during driver's meetings.

And still it persists.

So simple.

See yellow, slow down. When passed the next turn station not displaying yellow, resume racing.

The turn stations and the start/finish tower are there to provide safety and communication while we race. Our racing is for fun. No one comes out at a club meet to make money. Every one of us has a job to return to on Monday, including the turn workers and safety crews.

So don't over complicate something so simple and easy to do. Slow down, ensure the safety of everyone, and when the danger is past, and you know for sure it is past, get back to it.
 

Steve Adams

Just this guy, ya know?
As you are allowed to race until the yellow flag, not to mention a scenario where a flag comes out in the middle of a passing maneuver, I believe this conversation started in an attempt to figure out where the "yellow flag zone" actually starts. This is NOT as simple as "see a yellow, slow down:" If I'm approaching the Turn 4 apex at Portland, for example, I can see a yellow flag in Turn 6... but I don't have to stop racing the guy next to me until I get to the area of the Turn 6 station's control. So where does that "area of control" begin? Where is the part of the track where I need to stop worrying about racing the car next to my door and start focusing on getting my car WELL under control and watching for broken cars, emergency vehicles, and people on the track?

It's a good discussion to have, even if the only result is to help a driver understand why everyone thinks he passed under yellow when he's positive he didn't.
 
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