"track record"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Nov 19 17:27:15 UTC 2010

"It sounds more like grumblings by yet another Neanderthal that history has
left him behind."

Well, yes.  There's a lot of that going round.

> New York Times - Oct 20, 1886
> > The 100 miles was done in 6:1:15--25 minutes ahead of the world s
> > record and over 1 minute ahead of the track record for this distance
> > made at Springfield, By Ives, of Meriden, Connecticut.

I was born and raised in Meriden.  Funny I never heard of this Ives guy.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
Date: Thursday, November 18, 2010 11:56 pm
Subject: Re: "track record"

> It sounds like Red Smith would have been wrong in his assessment. Yes,
> there is a "track record" expression that is routinely used in horse
> racing, auto racing, cycling, speed skating and "field athletics", i.e.,
> competitive running (and a few other events associated with it). And it
> does mean the best time for a particular distance or event (or other
> "best" for an event) at a single venue. But it should not be difficult
> to show that the other use of "track record" has been running in
> parallel for a long time and thus hardly qualifies as "misuse". It
> sounds more like grumblings by yet another Neanderthal that history has
> left him behind.
> Don't misunderstand--I am not unsympathetic to Smith's claim. But there
> are some historical records to consider. And evidence suggests that his
> preferred interpretation was never a lone one.
> First, the earliest "track record" in GNA is indeed of the "best time"
> variety, but not for horses.
> http://goo.gl/nUF0S
> New York Times - Oct 20, 1886
> > The 100 miles was done in 6:1:15--25 minutes ahead of the world s
> > record and over 1 minute ahead of the track record for this distance
> > made at Springfield, By Ives, of Meriden, Connecticut.
> But the article touts the feet of one S. G. Whittacker on a track in
> Cawfordsville, Indiana, so the "track record" certainly does not refer
> to a single specific track, but to a record on "track", in general. This
> is not the meaning that Smith envisioned.
> The next two entries (1888 and 1889) have other usage.
> http://goo.gl/a0Rsj
> New York Times - Sep 23, 1888
> > [Guy lowers the track record a clean second.]
> > ... The great event of the day which attracted the crowd was the
> > advertised attempt of Guy, the black son of Kentucky Prince, to beat
> > 2:13 3/4, the fastest recorded time over the track, made by the Queen
> > of the Turf, Maud S.
> This is Smith's preferred choice. But the 1889 entry returns to bicycles.
> http://goo.gl/MP7g7
> New York Times - Aug 11, 1889
> > At the Queens Athletic Club grounds, Queens, L. I., yesterday, A. C.
> > Banker of the Berkeley Athletic Club broke the mile track record,
> > making the mile in 2:57. He then rode the fastest five miles ever
> > ridden on a bicycle in this State, making a record of 15:41 1-5. L.
> L.
> > Clarke of the Berkeleys broke the one-sixth of a mile and the
> > quarter-mile track records, making the first in 0:24 and the second
> in
> > 0:40 3-5.
> The hits that follow are a mix of bicycling and horse racing entries.
> The more interesting among them is this one.
> http://goo.gl/UU7bj
> [Editorial Article 6--No title]
> > ... It is true that this is a "kite-shaped track" record, but so was
> > the record it supersedes.
> Note the modifier in this case--not "track" record, but "kite-shaped
> track" record, so it is clearly associated with a particular track. It
> would seem that, starting in 1890, the predominant usage of "track
> record" is for a record time on a particular track. But the alternative
> use of "track record" for the type of race or a particular distance is
> also present.
> http://goo.gl/MDmCs
> A Road Record Broken.
> New York Times - Jul 20, 1893
> > Erie, Penn., July 19.--Charles M. Reed's brown road team Lunette and
> > Evangeline broke the road record this morning. The race was for a
> > wager of $2,000; the distance, from Girard, Penn., to Mr. Reed's barn
> > in this city, sixteen and a half miles, and the time allowed
> > fifty-five minutes. ... The distance was covered in 49:30. ...
> > The team was quite fresh when it came in and showed no signs of
> > distress. This record beats the Boston twenty-mile track record, which
> > was fifty-eight minutes.
> Similarly, another article refers to "twenty-four hour track record",
> where there is no ambiguity about the meaning of "track"--in this case,
> the reference is to a record on /any/ track and not a specific one.
> http://goo.gl/SYPXp
> New York Times - Jun 19, 1892
> > The most notable one last week, and one which is welcome, inasmuch as
> > it brings to this country the twenty-four hourr track record, was the
> > ride of Frank Waller of the Acme Bicycle Club, Oakland, Cal. Mr.
> > Waller gave due notice to the Racing Board of his intention to try for
> > this record, and will, no doubt, send in his claim for it. The
> > previous record was 361 miles 1,446 yards, made by M. A. Halbein.
> > Waller has placed the new figures at 363 miles 1,500 yards, which will
> > stand as a world's record as soon as allowed.
> The same applies to horses as to bicycles.
> http://goo.gl/OBXPt
> Half Mile Trotting Track Record Broken
> New York Times - Jun 17, 1893
> > Del., June 16.-James Green yesterday drove his pacing stallion Saladin
> > one mile in 2:09 3/4 over the half-mile track at Wawaset Park here,
> > beating the world's pacing or trotting record over a half-mile
> track. ...
> So there is a split in the usage of "track record" from the earliest
> newspaper appearances.
> I did not inspect any further, although there are at least two dozen
> other hits for 1892-3 and a few for 1890-1 that I skipped.
> What's missing from this list, however, is the meaning of "track record"
> that is in non-sports use, the one that Smith objected to. The earliest
> GNA citation is from 1973 to "Nixon's long track record"
> (http://goo.gl/W7YkW). But this was specifically from a search for "long
> track record", as going through 75 years of raw hits for "track record"
> was highly unappealing. Clearly, this would not be the earliest occurrence.
> The OED does have a sub-entry:
> > track record, (a) the record performance in a particular athletics
> > event at a particular track; (b) the performances achieved by a
> > particular athlete in the past; also fig., known facts about past
> > achievements or behaviour taken as a guide to future performance
> This is not bad, as it takes three different meanings into account, but
> completely misses the meaning that I first identified. That is, it is
> the meaning that differs from (a) in the sense that it is not attached
> to any particular track, but relates to a performance on any track
> suitable for the particular event. As a couple of cites above suggest,
> this is close to synonymous to "world record"--or, as was common in the
> 1890s, "world's record".
> > 1951 Publ. Amer. Dial. Soc. XVI. 66 *Track record, the best time made
> > by a horse over a certain distance on a certain track. 1965 Life 15
> > Jan. 56A/1 Wilder has had a series of extremely successful pictures...
> > We were betting on his track record that this one would be too. 1972
> > Observer 30 Apr. 12/5 The airlines have over the years had enough
> > confidence in our track record to be perfectly happy about this
> > procedure. 1974 Spartanburg (S. Carolina) Herald 18 Apr. c2/5 Charles
> > Mathis..set a new track record at Northwestern with a 149´6´´ in the
> > discus. 1976 Milton Keynes Express 25 June 51/3 Houghton Rip..came
> > fourth behind the Irish dog, whose track record was smashed by last
> > year's Derby consolation winner Shamrock Point. 1976 Time 20 Dec. 17/1
> > A lot of the women candidates..have no management track records to be
> > judged on. So they keep being passed over. 1983 Daily Tel. 23 Mar. 21
> > The Trustee Savings Banks, which plan to go public towards the end of
> > next year, badly need to establish a good track record on profits.
> Note the first citation (1951). Clearly, this is not the earliest, but
> you've got to love the source! The earliest non-sports "track record"
> is
> in the 1965 citation. But would I let it go without getting an earlier
> one? Bill Mullins already got one from 1958, so the next three are a bit
> superfluous (but I like presenting work-product).
> http://goo.gl/A9Exh
> Checking The Facts On Skills For D.A.
> Victoria Advocate - Google News Archive - Apr 14, 1962
> > While it is convenient to try and saddle Mr. Filley with the District
> > Attorney's office's poor track record, thinking people realize that
> > Assistant District Attorneys do not make plea bargaining policies, the
> > District Attorney does.
> There is another.
> http://goo.gl/FMYPB
> Repertory Theatre To Hit Television
> Gadsden Times - Google News Archive - Feb 17, 1963
> > Boone's enthusiasm for the show takes into account a rather poor track
> > record of previous anthology shows in the ratings.
> Varying the search string a bit more, we can refine the dates further.
> http://goo.gl/BcHrR
>  From Playboy's Hugh Hefner
> Village Voice - Google News Archive - Nov 9, 1961
> > It is really an ironic that we, who have such an excellent track
> > record, should be faced with an attack which might jeopardize all the
> > good work we have done to date and the good work that we most
> > certainly intend to do in the future in the area of solving the
> > problem of segregation.
> Simply replacing "excellent" with "good" gets another 8 years shaved off.
> http://goo.gl/osySB
> Moscow Scores A Victory, Almost Sets Big 3 Agenda .
> St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive - Dec 3, 1953
> > That's why the new Social Security Administrator, who otherwise had
> a
> > good track record, is being eyed in Washington with skepticism. Is he
> > a cold, correct professional, or does he have the kindly, family
> > doctor approach?
> I guess, my instincts failed me, because I got stuck with the best for
> last--antedating "track record" a further 21 years. I should have known
> better--it's the one Bill found in 1958.
> Vaudeville, Film, Park; Clowning On Thursdays
> Reading Eagle - Google News Archive - Feb 24, 1932
> > Joe, as a sappy college student with an inferior complex, succeeds in
> > convincing the girl of his heart he is a prominent college man, with
> a
> > great track record and membership in a leading fraternity, and finally
> > Joe has to prove himself a hero in the eyes of his sweetheart by
> > winning a track meet. Joe wins the girl as well as the meet.
> Note that the two meanings suddenly collide.
> I will leave one as an exercise to the reader--with a ProQuest account:
> > Pay-Per-View - Los Angeles Times - ProQuest Archiver - Mar 16, 1928
> > Jack Merchant, Henry Coggeshall, Paul Boren and Proctor Flanagan mean
> > plenty to the fan who knows his track record book.
> The fact that this mentions "track record book" makes me want to know
> more.
> VS-)
> On 11/18/2010 11:41 AM, George Thompson wrote:
> > According to the OED, "track record" derives from horse racing.
> >> Whether horse racing qualifies as a "sport" is open to question:  The
> >> activity is covered in the "sports" section of newspapers, but I
> >> always wonder who is the athlete--the horse or the rider or the owner.
> > The horses are often referred to as athletes by turf broadcasters,
> anyway.  I maybe don't see it in written racing commentary.  The
> jockeys are certainly athletes.
> >
> > I recall many years ago a column by Red Smith in which he grumbled
> at the misuse of the expression "track record", which, in horse
> racing, doesn't mean a horse's record as a racer, but the fastest time
> ever run on a specific track for a specific distance: as, the track
> record at Saratoga for a mile and 3/8 on dirt is . . .
> >
> > "Wine Police (7th, $7.10) jumped out to the lead, shook off Mythical
> Truth and favored Soldat turning for home, and widened to a 7
> 3/4-length debut triumph in 1:03.36, just missing J Be K's 5
> 1/2-furlong track record of 1:03.13 set in 2007."  (from a recent
> horse-racing blog by Dave Liftin, who also writes for the Daily Racing
> Form; found by a Google search for "track record" saratoga)
> >
> > GAT
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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