How would you rule....?


This situation happen last weekend and it had some interesting interpretations of Rule 19.3.5 regarding a waiving yellow flag. Let’s see how you would rule on this…
Coming down the front straight, a white car in the distance goes into turn 1 and spins off track causing a fairly healthy dust cloud. There was no other car seen going off in front of the white car when that white car went off track. As the SE 30 leaders come down the front straight, the yellow flag is thrown at Start/Finish early enough for all 4 cars to see it.

The lead car is online (right side of track) and approaching turn 1, which is a 90 degree left hander. The second place car pulls out to the left so as to avoid the leader checking up unexpectedly or early…which does happen in this case. The driver of the 2nd place car looks way ahead and can see that the next corner worker station and the corner worker has no flags up at all. The second place driver can also see a white car driving by that corner worker station that looks to be like the one that went off track and he saw driving slowly out of the dust cloud as they approached.

The cloud is starting to dissipate and the driver in 2nd place can see through the remaining dust that the inside of the turn (where he would be driving) is clear all the way to the exit of the turn and course ahead, but the outside of the turn is not 100% visible like the inside is to him, but says he could barely see the right side edge of the track. Believing there is no car in the turn, the 2nd place driver makes the pass on the leader and races on and takes the win.

After the race, some drivers question the pass and claim a foul was committed in violation of 19.3.5 saying that the 2nd place driver passed under yellow. So it is clear, Rule 19.3.5 basically states “…NO PASSING is permitted, until completely past the incident, or until past the next manned flag station that is not displaying any Yellow Flag(s), whichever comes first.” Video from the 3rd place car (5 car lengths back) confirms the scenario, but does not have the 2nd place car’s perspective and field of vision.

The 2nd place driver was DQ’d for passing under yellow by the Race Director solely based on the 3rd place car’s video…at first. A conversation with the 2nd place driver yielded this:
Q: Did you see the yellow flag you passed under?
A: Yes. I saw it as we passed start/finish.

Q: You are being DQ’s for the pass in turn 1 under yellow…ok?
A: I disagree with that because the rules say…(and goes on to repeat rule 19.3.5)

Q: How is that if you made the pass going into the turn and didn’t pass “the incident?”
A: Well, if I am heads up enough to look all the way through the turn and see the corner worker has no flag up, then see what looks like the same car that went off track driving slowly past that corner worker, then see no car through the corner, where is “the incident” to pass? With no incident to pass, the way I see it, the race resumes since there was no flag up at the next manned corner worker station.

What would your decision be? Would your DQ of the driver stand? Or would you reverse your decision based on the argument that the driver presented? Defend your answer.


Are we being graded on this?


Tough one. Both sides of the issue could make good points. Imo it’s pass under yellow unless there’s some extenuating circumstances.

Cars that spin off the track often self-recover. Then they get back on the track, the yellow comes back in. Exactly when the yellow comes back in depends on the corner worker’s evaluation of the situation…that is to say…is the car up there that is now back on the track and accelerating still a danger or not to cars back here that are heading towards my flag station?

The car that is self recovering is still a hazard until it gets up to speed a bit. Just because it’s gotten itself back on the track doesn’t immediately negate the yellow. By the time the recovered car has accelerated to a safe speed, chances are it will be past the next flag station. Therefore it’s reasonable to say to car 2 “this was not yet a safe situation. Flagger still had yellow up.”

Extenuating circumstances. I can imagine a combo of a slow turn and a car that has spun off several hundred yards down the track. The car self recovers and gets back on the track. I come thru the corner under yellow, but because it’s a slow corner, that self recovered car 200yrds up ahead is going now as fast as I am. So it’s a completely safe situation. I could easily make a judgement call that the self-recovery has reached such a state that the flagger behind me prob just pulled his flag in, so I can pass.

That said, if I find out later that he didn’t pull his flag in behind me, then I prob passed under yellow.


Only on spelling and artwork.

However, extra style points will be added for creativity…:stuck_out_tongue:


[color=#880088]I would rule in favor of the passing driver. This happens more than you would think and pretty much every lap in T7 at Road Atlanta. Lead car goes off track, the corner guy waves the flag, following cars take waving yellow, lead guy gets back on, following cars pass each other and lead car. The difference is it happens in 3 seconds instead of a full straight. IMO since there is no longer an incident, they have already passed it. [/color]

[color=#ff0000]I have always had a love hate relationship with this rule and have always leaned toward no passing until next station no matter what. The rule makes sense but there is always the “what if” of “what if you think you are past the incident and you plow into somebody.” But when I’m on track I see that it works as written even if there is arguably more risk involved.[/color]

[size=6]+10 points for style…


I’d say a strict interpretation of the CCR says DQ. I believe this scenario is the only logical reason for the “whichever comes first” wording (which I struggled with in prepping for comp school). If there’s no incident to pass, you have to wait until you pass a manned flag station without a yellow. Was the second driver correct in thinking the white car he saw was the one that brought out the yellow (irrelevant with a strict interpretation, but interesting)?

I also acknowledge that this strict interpretation sets the cautious driver up for a hose job. If you take the caution behind a slow TR you’re just about to lap, you have to back off and can’t pass him until you’re past the next manned flag station. Meanwhile, the guy who was 100 yds behind you never took a yellow because the incident cleared, and passes you both legally, while you would be illegal if you followed him around the TR.


There were some that took that very interpretation and held onto it. Others first thought that way and then changed their minds when they thought about it.

One of the biggest issues we had was to define “the incident.” One person felt the dust cloud was the incident, but another said if you see the car that caused the dust cloud down track, no flag at the next station and you see a clear path through the turn, there is no incident as it has cleared itself.

Everyone seems to struggle with defining “the incident.”

Any other thoughts or opinions would be interesting to read.


What’s interesting to me is this idea that 2 cars can be in the same section of the track and be operating under different rules.

In Nor Cal they’ve adopted the “Spotter” system (maybe other regions use it or something similar). It’s an app you download to your phone (or any GPS + data connected device) and it relays the current flag situation for the location you are at. Someone in control manages the status updates for the various parts of the track and that gets sent out to the appropriate cars. It helps address problems like this as you would be able to update a person’s flag situation at any given point on track.

Problem is, in my opinion, it hasn’t been particularly reliable (for various reasons, I believe, but the main one being cellular coverage at all parts of the track). As such, we’re told that the flaggers are the “rule” and Spotter is “just a helper”. Which kind of just puts you back in the same boat of needing to rely on the combination of flagger + CCR rules. If the system could be relied upon, though, it would make this problem mostly go away.

This situation reminds me of the question that’s often asked of stop signs – “If I can see that there are no cars coming, why should I have to stop?” By leaving that up to the drivers, you’re introducing a rule that is subject to “interpretation creep”. For the stop sign example it starts with:

“there were no visible cars, so I went” and then it evolves to
"there were cars, but they were soooo far away there’s no way they’d get to the intersection in time, so I went" to
"the car was pretty far away, so I went" to
"the car was close, but wasn’t moving very fast so I was able to easily get through, so I went" to
"the car was close, but if I accelerated quick enough, I’d get through, so I went".

Each evolution corresponds to a percentage of added risk that could be mitigated by forcing the driver to stop and make a safety determination rather than making one on the fly.

The same thing potentially starts happening here.

“It was a clean off, no dust, I saw the car number, and I saw the car get back on, so I figured I was green” to
"It was a clean off, but I didn’t really see a number, just that it was white, but it got back on, so I figured I was green" to
"There was a cloud of dust, but I saw it was just one car, and thought it was white, I thought it got back on, so I figured I was green" to
"There was a cloud of dust, and I thought there was just one car, wasn’t sure what color, but there was a slow car on the track that must’ve been it, so I figured I was green"… and so on.

Of course, none of it is a problem until that one time when there were actually 2 cars that went off, one comes back on, the second car is in a cloud of dust, and gets slammed because everyone saw the first car get back on track and assumed the course was green again.

In this case, while I totally get the passer’s interpretation, I think the unfair part comes in that the passer essentially got the win because they were willing to operate under a condition that took on a safety risk (albeit small, but one that was not just a safety risk for themselves but possibly other cars) that the lead driver was not willing or able to operate under. It doesn’t seem like a situation you want to allow people to win races by and could ultimately snowball until someone gets hurt because people are being overly aggressive and liberally interpreting the flagging “incidents”.

I believe I would have let the DQ stand.



I was waiting for a response like this. The reason is for exactly what you wrote. It’s clear by your verbiage that you understand the passer’s logic and see how, in his interpretation, the pass was within the rule. However, you also question the safety of the pass. Interesting that you brought up the win and that you don’t like that the passer got the win that way. What if it was for 7th? Would it change your mind? And so you know, this was in a qualifying race.

This was a major struggle for the 2 drivers involved in that they both felt that the pass was within the rules, but unsafe and very risky/aggressive. The two racers are VERY good friends. In the moment, the passer did not see it as unsafe as it appeared after the race, but was also the first to agree once he had time to think carefully about it. His words, “Was it within the rules?..I truly feel it was because “the incident” was not there any longer and I felt I saw enough to judge that. Now, having time to think about the situation and things I didn’t consider, I agree that the risk is not worth it.”

This is exactly why I posted this. There seems to be this grey area surrounding “the incident,” and that is where the dilemma lies. Nobody, including the passer challenges the safety of it and even himself said that in reflection, he would not make that move again as the risk is not worth the reward, nor is his racing reputation.

Even with the Spotter application, this situation depends on the position of each car and their visibility at that time. The app can’t see what the driver can see and this one is very tough to call. Obviously, leaning toward the side of safety is usually always the best decision.

Good stuff to debate and share views on.


Som, you’re making it sound a lot more complicated and common then it really is.

We do what the flagger tells us to do. If one chooses not to do what the flagger tells us to do, they better have a really good case for their action supported by video goodness because they’re going to have to convince people that are unhappy with them.

It’s very rare for driver conduct issues to be so gray that folks can’t agree on who is in the right. It happens, but it doesn’t happen enough to lose sleep over. The important thing is that everyone understand how the rules are supposed to be interpreted. As long as folks start on the same sheet of music, most folks will reach the same conclusion as to what is right vs. wrong minute by minute.

That said, there’s some parts of the CCR re. driver conduct that are ambiguous and other parts that are really hard to understand. Those are, imo, genuine cause for concern. For an example of the latter, see 26.0 Fig 12.


Ok, time for what the outcome was.

The whole thing was deferred to the Event Director due to a relationship that existed between the driver and the Race Director. To avoid any allegation of favoritism, the RD wisely turned it over to a neutral party who didn’t have a skin in the game. So the driver waited for the two of them to discuss the situation and then presented his case to the Event Director.

The Event Director decided to over turn the DQ after asking his own questions and hearing from the passing driver…here is why. The ED felt that the driver saw the yellow flag and the car that went off track. He then was able to see the next corner worker stand and the car that appeared to be the one that caused the dust cloud passing that corner worker stand. Looking at the turn and seeing the inside as clear, while believing that the incident has cleared, he did not feel that the driver was in violation of the waiving yellow flag rule. The driver was awarded the win and, because it was a qualifying race, the pole for the main race.

After speaking with both the RD and ED, the driver did offer the driver he passed the opportunity to rule on the situation out of respect or their friendship and his trust in his opinion. Their mutual conclusion was that the pass legal, but overly aggressive and a higher risk than both felt was necessary when they are not being paid for racing.

As a result, the passing driver decided NOT to accept the pole for the main race and voluntarily decided to start at the back of the entire field in an effort to display his level of sportsmanship. The driver also felt that this was an appropriate response because he didn’t just blow the flag off, or not even see it. Had that been the case, the DQ would be justified regardless of the intent. The driver felt that the yellow flag rules exist for the safety of all racers and while the move may have been legal, it did violate the spirit of the flag. He felt a better decision would been to pause their race and resume it when both were clear of ANY hazard be it on track or compromising their vision of the whole track. Therefore, he chose to penalize himself.


Boom. A+ for me. Feels good to be the curve killer for once. :evil:


Just found the thread. I can post the video, but I already black flagged Fooshe on my own, so it’s moot.


Rather late to this conversation, but to add my 2 cents in case this is being used as a precedent…

The incident for which the yellow flag is waved is the for the car going 4 wheels off the racing surface. The “dust cloud” is unfortunately irrelevant. The flag would remain held by Start/Finish until the car off course passed the perpendicular plane of T1 (at which point T1 is responsible), or rejoins the track safely before T1. A car that pulls over off course without a dust cloud still warrants a yellow, even it if comes to a controlled safe stop. That yellow would exist for 2 laps, following which the car becomes part of the track. If in an impact zone, that yellow would remain until the car is retrieved or the end of the session. If the driver managed to pull up to the T1 worker station and communicated that he would be stopping there for the rest of the session, Start/Finish would likely drop their flag at that moment. Until that exact moment, the entire section of track from Start/Finish to the perpendicular line from the last(if applicable) incident vehicle before T1, provided T1 isn’t displaying a flag, is considered a yellow zone. Since the incident vehicle was still in motion, the perpendicular plane to the track from the moving incident car, at which point the passing driver can see the next manned station without a flag the end of the yellow flag zone

Based on the description of the incident provided, a car that overtakes another before passing the “incident vehicle” has passed under yellow. Merely initiating a pass (any overlap in front and rear bumpers [25.4.1]) is illegal. Unfortunately, the CCR does not explain in detail when and for what exact reasons a yellow flag is displayed. It merely states caution/danger ahead.