"track record"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 19 08:42:29 UTC 2010

It gets better--much better--than I last wrote. GB makes things even
more interesting.

Filtering the search for pre-1893 (just to give a little wiggle room)
gives a number of interesting hits. More to the point, the usage that is
billed as "fig." in the OED--and the one that Red Smith does not approve
of--appears on par with the other meanings of "track record". And
something tells me "turkey-track record" does not refer to the fastest
turkey in a race.

Inside the bar: and other occasional poems. By John Walker May.
Portland/Lewiston, ME: 1884
The Shorth-Han Feller. p. 47
> D'ye see how he does it, takin' it down,
>     King's English an' glib Irish lingo?
> Each joke an' each gesture, each laugh an' grimace
>     In the turkey-track record find always a place :
> He'd write the whole pack, sir, 'n the very small space
> Where you couldn't write e'en the two spot or ace,—
>     A wonderful feat, by jingo !

In case this one is too odd, there is better.

Outing. Vol. 10:2. May 1887
Answers to Correspondents. p. 193
> /G. A. Loomis, Andover, Mass./--Will you kindly inform me through the
> columns of your magazine what distinction Will S. Maltby has attained
> as a bicyclist ? W. S. Maltby is a trick bicyclist, a rink excibitor,
> and by competent judges is considered in the first rank of the /fancy
> riding/ wheelmen, although not the best man in the business. He is now
> in the West, has no track record, and is a professional, making his
> living by his fancy riding.

24th Annual report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of
Agriculture [for 1876]. 1877
Horses. Worcester. From the Report of the Committee on Brood Mares. p. 154
> Instead of breeding with a clearly defined purpose, a horse for cart,
> or saddle, or carriage, a quick-maturing, well-sized, fine-tempered
> animal, "a farmer's colt, and a rich man's horse," they have had vague
> dreams of Dexters and Goldsmith Maids to be got by breeding worn-out
> and usually unsound mares to horses with a track record, or often to
> horses only related in blood to some that have had track records.

Thirty-First Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh,
Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railway Company, to the Stock and Bondhoders, for
The Year Ending December 31, 1893. Pittsburgh: 1894
Chicago RAILWAY COMPANY. p. 108
> The track record of the road showing increase from date of lease is as
> follows:
>                                 1st.           2d.            3d.
>         4th.            Other.        Total.
> July 1st, 1869        468.3        34.9
>                 108.3            611.5
> Dec. 31, 1893        468.3        270.8        17.2        10.1
>     319.6            1086.0
> Increase                                     235.9        17.2
>    10.1        211.3        474.5
> To complete 2d track                197.5
> This includes 28 miles of business sidings, gravel pit and sundry
> tracks not paid for by your company or charged to betterment.
> To complete second track, it is estimated, will cost $2,500,000.

What do you think a "track record of the road" is? It's certainly not
the same as a track record for speed or world record on track.

I also have a clear confirmation of my claim of the connection between
"track record" and "world's record" in some circumstances.

The Philadelphia record almanac. 1892
p. 88
> World's Bicycle Track Record.
> [list of records for 1891]
The Philadelphia record almanac. 1893
p. 89
> World's Bicycle Track Record.
> [list of records for 1892]

So there are several different meanings of "track record" used some time
between 1870 and 1893, all at the same time. These include all four
meanings I mentioned earlier--the three from the OED, plus the world
record on track (mostly for bicycles, but other possibilities exist),
plus two other odd uses--a positive history of racing for a horse and
then something having to do with railroad tracks.

It is the last two that appear to parallel modern usage, although,
obviously, not about horses or railroad tracks.


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