The History of the Checkered Flag

One thing that many people don’t know about me, is my love of racing. Horse racing, NASCAR, Indy, Rally, you name it. The competition is intense, the atmosphere electric, and the crowd is noisy! Watching a race on TV doesn’t really do the trick, it has to be live!

Back in March I went to the NASCAR race in Atlanta, and took note of something I hadn’t noticed before. You guessed it… an abundance of flags! Upon entering the stadium you see flags flying high. The US flag, Georgia State flag, NASCAR flags and even sponsor flags. But there was one flag that stood out the most above others. One flag that everyone noticed and is so important, it even caught the attention of the racers. Of course, I’m talking about the checkered finish flag. Considering it’s one little flag that’s proved to be of such importance to these prestigious racers, I thought I’d look into exactly why the flag is checkered and why it stands for the finish of a race.

The most interesting theory of the origins of the checkered flag that I found dates back to the 1800’s after the date of the Louisiana Purchase. An early American past-time in the Mid-West settlement included horse racing. After the races, those in attendance would gather for lunch or dinner. Often, a table-cloth would be taken and waved in the air to signal that the food was ready, and the racing should come to and end. Lo and behold, typical tablecloths of the time happened to be checkered! Soon, that waving checkered table-cloth acted as a brand or a recognized symbol to end the races. Over time, checkered flags were created and produced specifically for this purpose, and still used today!

Now, here’s the kicker. The above theory is just a theory! The table cloth idea has been passed down over 200 years, and could very well be just a tale. The more likely reasoning for the checkered flag is the contrast of colors being something easy to see for the racers. Back in the earlier days of racing, the tracks were dirt roads. Dust and dirt would kick into the air, making it difficult to see, especially when moving at high speeds. The contrasting black and white checkered flag was easy to spot and therefore made the perfect finish line flag.

The next time I go to the races, I know I’ll be looking for that checkered finish flag to see who won. On that day, Kurt Busch won the big race, Matt Kenseth came in 2nd and Juan Pablo Montoya in 3rd. The next time you head to the race track make sure you bring your NASCAR flags to support your favorite racer.

Duke Blue Devil’s 2010 Season

I am not a shy person … most people who know me – whether it is family, friends, work or even the friendly people at the local retail shops and restaurants I frequent – know I am a Duke University Women’s Basketball Fanatic and a Duke Men’s Basketball Follower … you might say I have Duke University Pride … I wave the banners proud … and speaking of banners; this year has been a BANNER Year!…

When the 2009-2010 Duke Women’s Basketball Team won the ACC Women’s Season Championship … we were there; my family and closest friends were present for the celebration at Greensboro Coliseum – sharing in the moment – embracing, cheering, so excited for this accomplishment for this team.  It was unbelievable … the Senior Players on this team have been trying to achieve this goal for so long – they did it!  We were there!!  It was a wonderful celebration… the festive balloons dropped from the ceiling … music filled the air … the happiness on everyone’s faces … the pride on the players families’ faces … after all of their names were called we watched the nets get cut down by the players, the Coaching Staff, the Team Managers, the Athletic Directors and all the supporting cast it takes to have a winning season ……

When we go back to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the upcoming season of Women’s Basketball games (November 2010), they will have the ACC Champions Banner displayed!  And we will be there.  To see the Banner … to attend with pride.…

Because we live less than 30 miles from Greensboro, NC – the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament Games and Championship Game were more feasible to travel to than Indianapolis, IN was this year.  But whoa – we tuned in for every minute of the Men’s NCAA Tournament action leading up to the Men’s Final Four … I could not believe the way the brackets were unfolding and dismantling … teams who had not lost games all season were losing … when Kansas, the #1 overall team lost to UNI in the second round, I was thinking, “ok, this is going to come down to Kentucky and Syracuse” … but then both of those teams lost … I started to think, “hmm, is it going to be K-State and WVU?” … as much of a serious Duke fan as I am, I was not believing what I was seeing and hearing!…

Butler kept winning. Duke kept winning.…

They both kept winning … wow, the final game on April 5th, 2010 … in Indianapolis … the Duke University Blue Devils … a pretty good team, but not a Pre-Season #1, not an overall favorite in the tournament VS the Butler Bulldogs (which happens to be my Alma Mater Barton College’s mascot … Bulldogs are very special to me).  An outcome predicted by only (according to ESPN) 0.03 percent (according to ESPN) of the nearly 5 million participating brackets in the ESPN Online Bracket challenge … I did not know what to expect … every scenario I had thought about up to this point has changed … could Duke really be the 2010 National Champions?  Truly, the nation got a great basketball game in this Duke VS Butler match-up!  The final score … in regulation was 61-59.  For both teams, this was their lowest scores of the entire tournament … it was an amazing game.…

When the Duke Men’s Basketball Team returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium to their Hometown Crowd … after winning the National Title Game to Butler … the anticipation was wild.  There was a public homecoming for students, faculty, staff, and fans to attend for them to arrive from the airport.…

It was April 6th, 2010 … the parking was insane – and I didn’t mind it all!!  Pollen covered every single surface available on Duke University’s Campus … “like a banner of pollen (☺)” …  I parked far enough away from Cameron Indoor Stadium that the walk served as a time to think about what was going through the Men’s Basketball Teams’ minds at this very moment; reminiscing through the seasons success, and meditating on what I was about to attend.
When I walked into Cameron Indoor Stadium … there was a buzz like no other buzz!!  The space was beginning to reach capacity!  On the scoreboard they had the Final Championship game playing – commercial free!  The scoreboard read Duke 61 Butler 59 and the time on the clock was locked on 20:10.  I found a place to sit … where the Championship game was being broadcast they showed the caravan of buses on the screen arriving from the airport and the crowd went wild!…

Shortly thereafter “The Voice of the Blue Devils,” Bob Harris announced from the podium – here are your Two Thousand Ten NCAA Basketball National Champion Duke Blue Devils! The players wore various championship announcing shirts … Coach K spoke – such amazing stories told!  Seniors John Scheyer, Lance Thomas, and Brian Zoubek said a few words.  Then Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith spoke. … each of the speakers thanked the crowd for being there and had such great comments on their experiences … what a Championship Year … the banner which is now displayed at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the 2010 Men’s Basketball NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils … what a beautiful banner it is!  Congratulations Duke University 2009-2010 Women’s and Men’s Basketball Teams on your wonderful accomplishments and success this season!

The 7 Flags of Racing (part 2)

So last week I gave you a breakdown of the 3 most used flags in NASCAR: the green flag, the yellow (caution) flag and the checkered flag. Now, we will go over some of the lesser known flags.

The White Flag

The white flag indicates to the drivers that only one lap remains in the race. It marks the beginning of the most exciting lap in motorsports! 

 

 

The Red Flag

The Red flag indicates that the track is dangerous to continue on and all cars are stopped. These cars are either escorted to the pit stalls or are stopped at a specific location on the track. Drivers and crews are not allowed to work on their cars during a red flag. Many different situations can cause red flags to be flown, including rain, debris, fires, etc.

The Black Flag

A black flag is flown when a driver or team has done something illegal and they are being penalized. In NASCAR, this flag is most often when a car has surpassed the pit row speed limit. If a part of the car is beginning to become a hazard to the rest of the drivers, such as a bumper hanging or falling off, the black flag will summon the driver into the pits to get it fixed before being allowed to continue racing.

The Blue Flag

The Blue with yellow striped flag indicates to slower traffic that faster traffic is approaching. It does not necessarily require the drivers to let the faster cars pass though, as many might believe. During races, these are usually only shown to lapped (cars that have been passed by a full lap) car, but during testing, practice and qualifying, the flag can be waved at anyone on the track.

There you have it! All 7 NASCAR flags! I hope that this helps you understand races a little more, and at the very least give you an understanding of the flags used. If you are looking for a racing flag set, please visit our site and check out the NASCAR flags!

The 7 Flags of Racing (part 1)

In honor of the newly formed NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) Hall Of Fame, I have decided to do a breakdown of all 7 flags used in the sport today. Today we will break down the 3 most important: The green flag, checkered flag and yellow flag.

Green Flag

The green flag signals the start/restart of each race. It is flown at the beginng of the race and each time the race resumes following any cautions or delays. Sometimes you may hear the term “green flag conditions” which just means the laps are not under caution or delay. The only other time a green flag is used is at the entrance of pit road. When it is flown in this manner, it indicates to the drivers that pit road is available for pit stops.

Yellow Flag

The yellow flag (caution flag) indicates to the driver that either a wreck, debris or some other situation has forced the race to come “under caution”. When this happens, speed limits are restricted and passing is not allowed. In NASCAR, a pace car will come onto the track to limit the speeds of the drivers and essentially line them up for the restart. The only time passing is allowed under caution is during pit stops; however, pit “row” has a speed limit as well.

Checkered Flag

The most recognizable flag of NASCAR and racing in general is of course: the checkered flag. This flag simply means that the race is finished. Most often this occurs when all laps are completed but can also be used in times where weather or track conditions have made it impossible to continue and the end of the race has been determined by NASCAR officials. Many times following the end of the race, the winner will drive a “victory lap” around the track holding the flag outside of the window.

You can check out our NASCAR or racing flag set to get the racing flags you need! Check back for part 2 of our NASCAR flag breakdowns!

Getting Ready For The World Cup

The World Cup, or officially the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, is the International soccer tournament that has been held every 4 years since 1930. It will be held this year between June 11th and July 11th in South Africa. 13 teams participated in the 1930 tournament and has since grown to a 32 team tournament. The tournament is watched by more people than any other sporting event in the world, even generating more viewers than the olympics! Teams are chosen based on a 3 year span preceding the tournament. For 2010, the teams playing that will be playing in the South African tournament are:

  1. Group A: South Africa (Host Country)
  2. Group A: Mexico
  3. Group A: Uruguay
  4. Group A: France
  5. Group B: Argentina
  6. Group B: Nigeria
  7. Group B: Korea Republic
  8. Group B: Greece
  9. Group C: England
  10. Group C: USA
  11. Group C: Algeria
  12. Group C: Slovenia
  13. Group D: Germany
  14. Group D: Australia
  15. Group D: Serbia
  16. Group D: Ghana
  17. Group E: Netherlands
  18. Group E: Denmark
  19. Group E: Japan
  20. Group E: Cameroon
  21. Group F: Italy
  22. Group F: Paraguay
  23. Group F: New Zealand
  24. Group F: Slovakia
  25. Group G: Brazil
  26. Group G: Korea DPR
  27. Group G: Côte d’Ivoire
  28. Group G: Portugal
  29. Group H: Spain
  30. Group H: Switzerland
  31. Group H: Honduras
  32. Group H: Chile

These teams play in the month long tournament which has become known as the World Cup Finals with the winner being titled as the Fifa World Cup Champion. The 2006 championship match between Italy and France ended in a penalty shootout with Italy taking home the championship. The final match was watched by over 715 million people, or nearly 7 times the amount who watched this year’s Super Bowl!

In the tournament, there are 8 groups of four teams. These teams play a “round-robin” style of play, guaranteeing at least 3 games for each team. Each win for the team rewards 3 points, a tie rewards 1, and a lost rewards 0. Following the round-robin, the top teams in each group advance to the “knockout state” of the tournament which is essentially a single-elimination tournament for the remaining 16 teams. These teams play until there is only one team remaining…the FIFA World Cup Champion!

The original winning teams of the tournament received the Jules Rimet trophy, named for the man who originally created the World Cup concept…Jules Rimet. It featured Nike, the Greek goddess of victory and was constructed of solid gold on a “lapis lazuli” base. It was eventually stolen before the 1966 World Cup but found a few day later under some bushes in London by a dog named Pickles. Pickles quickly became a hero to the World Cup fans. The Jules Rimet trophy was again stolen in 1983 and has not been found since. Many speculations surround what could have happened to the trophy, but no one is totally sure.

The Jules Rimet trophy replacement, the FIFA World Cup trophy, was first given out in 1974 and has been used ever since. It is made from solid 18 carat gold and two layers of malachite. “FIFA World Cup” is engraved on the bottom and will be used until at least 2038 when all of the name plaques on the bottom of the trophy could possibly be filled.

Some of the best performing teams in the World Cup have been:

  • Brazil – 5 Championships
  • Italy – 4 Championships
  • Germany – 3 Championships
  • Argentina – 2 Championships
  • Uruguay – 2 Championships
  • France – 1 Championship
  • England – 1 Championship
  • I am excited about watching the tournament and hope you are as well. If you have never watched before, I encourage you to at least watch the championship game. The excitement surrounding the tournament is unbelievable to say the least and this year, America has a great chance for advancing far into the tournament for one of the first times in recent years. So go ahead and grab your World Cup Flag  and American Flags and get ready for the largest sporting tournament in the world! Go USA!

    FlagExpressions’ BCS Bowl Game Predictions

    I am sad to say that we are coming to the end of the college football season…my favorite sporting season of the year. On top of that, my NC State Wolfpack didn’t even make a bowl this year. I mean there are what, like 33 bowl games? Come on guys. Not even the Roady’s Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl? (That is a serious bowl game by the way) However, since we did beat UNC in the last game of the year, I can’t complain too much.

    Before getting into the bowl games though, can I just pose a question…WHY WHY WHY are we not doing a playoff system? It is the last major (college and/or professional) sporting venue that is not doing a playoff system and we rely on computer systems to help choose how the bowls will stack up. Yes, computers might be less biased but it also will take into effect teams running up the scores against Charleston Southern (hint: Florida Gators). It is time…no… it is very past time to do a playoff system.

    End Rant.

    Even though I am sad about the season being over, I do have the BCS bowl games to look forward to. With the selections this past weekend, here is the breakdown of the 5 major bowls:

    1. BCS Championship: Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)
    2. Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2)
    3. Sugar Bowl: Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)
    4. Fiesta Bowl: TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0)
    5. Rose Bowl: Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)

    We will look at the Rose Bowl first. I have watched Oregon play a few games this year, from the drama surrounding the first game of the season against Boise State…to the last minute win against Oregon State in the Civil War bowl. They have looked great and Jeremiah Masoli (Oregon quarterback) has looked as good as any as a double threat quarterback in the nation and with LeGarrette Blount again in the backfield, their offense is one of the most exciting in all of the country. Ohio State has been a very dominant team in the last 10 years but unless Terrelle Pryor comes out firing on all cylinders, I don’t see them being able to match Oregon’s offense for four quarters.

    My Prediction: Oregon again punches someone in the face…this time it is THE Ohio State University though.

    The Fiesta Bowl should be a great game, but both teams were hoping for higher bowl bids. TCU and Boise State both went undefeated during the year but let’s be honest, if they were playing in the SEC or Pac-10 or ACC, who really believes they would be undefeated? Okay so they could probably run the table in the ACC but… . I look for TCU to take this game on the back of one of the best defenses in the nation.

    My Prediction: Boise State gives TCU a run for the money, but TCU pulls it off in the end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Prediction #2: Fans watching this game: 38

    The Sugar Bowl features a great matchup between Florida and Cincinnatti. This will be one of the more exciting games of the postseason for me. Florida, being #1 through the whole year decided not to show up against an excellent Alabama team in the SEC championship and looks to regain momentum. At the same time, Cincinnatti lost Brian Kelly, their head coach, to Notre Dame and will not be coaching the bowl game. Despite Tony Pike and a great Cincinnatti offense, I see Florida coming in hungry following a lackluster SEC title game and the finale of possibly the greatest college quarterback of all time…Tim Tebow. Don’t get me wrong, I am all of an underdog, but remembering the Georgia vs. Hawaii game by my all-time favorite quarterback Colt Brennan, I can only believe so much hype. I think it will be a close first half, but the second half my get ugly. Rooting for Cincinnati but expecting Florida to run the show.

    My Prediction: Florida by 21.

    The Orange Bowl is next. Hey, here is the ACC…thanks for showing up guys. This looks to be one of the most interesting matchups in the BCS matchups. Georgia Tech, a dominant running team who runs the option better than any team in the nation, is a triple threat offense every time the ball is snapped. Iowa, a defensive force throughout the nation, has allowed less than 12 points a game all season. Games like this will be based on field position and ball control. I haven’t seen Iowa play that much this year and being an ACC boy, this comes as a totally biased opinion but I have to give the victory to Georgia Tech in a low scoring game.

    My Prediction: I’ll be regretting my prediction.

    Finally we come to the BCS Championship game between Alabama and Texas. Sure to be a major scoring affair, I have become very impressed with Alabama as of late. They took down Florida, the then #1 team, in the SEC championship game on the back of Mark Ingram who scored 3 touchdowns and Alabama finished with nearly 200 yards rushing total. Texas looked lackluster in their win against Nebraska and Colt McCoy, one of the best players in the nation nearly scrambled enough time off the clock to lose the game. I haven’t believed the Texas hype all year. I am going with Alabama and the newly appointed Heisman Trophy Winner in this game, but if Texas can come out firing like they did earlier in the year, it should be a good game. Look for Ingram to rush for 3 more scores to finish one of the best rushing seasons of all time.

    My Prediction: Alabama by 3.                                                                                                                                                        Prediction #2: Mark Ingram will need to see a chiropractor after carrying this team for the whole season.

    There are two things to look forward to at this point: Bowl games and next year. So for all of the armchair quarterbacks, we need to enjoy the next few weeks, because it will all soon be gone.

    If you are needing an NCAA flag/car flag for your home, garden, party, or flagpole, we have a great selection at flagexpressions.com.

    Good luck to all teams participating in the bowl games!

    NFL Weekend 1 in the Books

    Weekend #1 is in the books and well basically, there is a lot to talk about. Drama has surrounded the whole preseason, whether it be Brett Favre’s return from retirement AGAIN, Michael Vick’s return to football, or Donte Stallworths tragic crash…I for one wanted some news to occur on the field.

    This weekend, the main story was probably Brett Favre’s true debut with the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, all eyes were on Favre who went 14-21 with 110 yards and one touchdown (of 4 yards). Not bad for an old man who still loves the game more than anyone else in the league. You can love him or hate him but one thing Brett Favre does is get the job done.

    However, with Adrian Peterson on your team and playing the Cleveland Browns, they could have thrown Joey Harrington into the game and stood a chance. Peterson went for 25 carries and 180 yards, oh and not to mention 3 touchdowns. He ran with both feet but single handedly destroyed my fantasy team to the tune of 40.80 points so thanks for that.

    Favre’s old stomping grounds, Lambeau Field in Green Bay saw the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to the tune of 21-15. However, you Packers fans might want to slow down the pat on the backs for now. The Bears lost 3 key defensive players throughout the game, including Brian Urlacher, possibly the most dominant defensive player in the league. Also, for those thinking that Jay Cutler was playing for the Packers, it was just a mirage. Those 4 passes completed were just interceptions and marked his career’s worst game. However, the game was won by the Packers with a late 4th quarter drive led by Aaron Rodgers and was capped with a 50 yard pass to Greg Jennings with 1:11 reminded…only fitting to have a Favre-esque finish.

    Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles scored a win over the Carolina Panthers 38-10 despite Donovan McNabb cracking a rib in the 3rd quarter. Reports are that he will possibly play next weekend, and definitely by two weekends. Kinda makes me sad that Vick is still ineligible for the next two weekends though, being one of the most entertaining and able athletes in the NFL today. Jake Delhomne was booed heavily though as he walked off the field after throwing 5 interceptions on the night and finished with a passer rating of 14.7 and 73 yards. In the last two games that Delhomne has played has consisted of….get this, 9 interceptions and 1 fumble lost. Come on Jake! Make us North Carolina boys proud again.

    NFL week one is in the books and the best news about the whole ordeal, we are able to count the NFL weeks again. We a few sloppy plays, some great drives, yet no punts hit the Cowboys jumbotron! Adrian Peterson, try to score just a couple touchdowns next time I am playing you in fantasy. Jay Cutler, return to your glory days and give the Bears a shot at a Super Bowl this year. And finally, Donovan McNabb, get well soon.

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