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Has motor sport a language of its own?


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#1 tedski

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 13:41

hi all
I`ve been reading through some of the many posts on this site and like most Hobbies if that is the right word
to use motor sport has generated its own language for instance :-
spark plugs -candles
valves - nails
pistons - corks
exhaust pipe - long hole
and phrases such as "reluctant to give it the berries " which i find hilarious
does anyone know of any more if you do please share
thanks

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#2 Smudger

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 13:51

That would be normal, and it's called 'register' - all occupations and interests have them. Often they are used to show membership and to exclude outsiders.

That said, I've never heard of your examples. Motor racing register would include phrases such as 'ten-tenths' or even 'eleven-tenths' or oversteer/understeer.

#3 Allan Lupton

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 14:00

I agree with Richard that the examples you give are not known to me either.
I accept that the younger folk may talk/write like that but I've never heard/seen it
Jargon is fine if it is necessary (i.e. where a new word is needed for a new concept) or where it evolves naturally, but deliberate use of obscure/unnecessary terms can alienate even insiders. It also confuses those who are not operating in their first language.

#4 Stephen W

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 14:06

Originally posted by tedski
spark plugs -candles
valves - nails
pistons - corks
exhaust pipe - long hole
and phrases such as "reluctant to give it the berries "


Only one of these I have heard of is the last!

I suppose it depends where Tedski hails from - possibly one of the colonies?

:lol:

#5 lanciaman

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 14:16

Never heard of any of these expressions.

I've found that most racers are quite specific in their use of language and mainly avoid slang. Slang seems to be more common when describing driving or racing, and definitely less so when addressing engineering or technical aspects where accuracy is important.

Of course, "crapwagon" and "s***box" are universally understood.

#6 B Squared

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 14:33

Just an old midwestern USA guy here. I'm with all, but the original poster (tedski), never heard of these terms and I've been around the sport for 45) of my 50) years. Other than, "reluctant to give it the berries".

Brian

#7 RS2000

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 15:11

No, never heard of any of those in over 40 years in the sport.
I would imagine a lot of racing slang has become known to the general public from widespread TV viewing of GPs. The kind of rallying they've seen latterly on TV (none on UK terrestial TV now) is so removed from the majority of the sport as it was then that I doubt the slang is now similarly understood. Stuart Turner was writing in his first book 40+ years ago of the jargon of road rallying - whole sentences strung together with words like pruned, three ply, Targa etc. that were known to all competitors then, when the overwhelming majority of them in the UK took part in road rallying. Not the case any longer.

#8 ianselva

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 15:26

I'm sure these terms come from the world of two wheels - Joe Craig at Nortons perhaps.

#9 D-Type

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 15:41

I've never heard any of these. I've a book at somewhere home that includes a list of various 1930's US terms, admittedly featuring a bitof journalistic exaggeration. I'll post it when I find it.

On a similar note, there are several words and terms that motor sport has introduced to the language and some are now that well known that they are in general usage (eg politicians' speeeches):

grand prix
checquered flag
starting grid
pole position
parc fermé
last lap (but also used in athletics)
spin off
chicane
pit stop
pace notes
Le Mans start (used in sailing)

#10 f1steveuk

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 15:53

A language of it's own?

"for sure" ;)

#11 tedski

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 16:42

Originally posted by ianselva
I'm sure these terms come from the world of two wheels - Joe Craig at Nortons perhaps.


thanks I think that`s right I think the old memory banks not what it was ,
not so young now 55 and from one of the colonies South WALES
cheers all

#12 Mr Plug

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 17:29

Originally posted by tedski


....from one of the colonies South WALES ....


Ah! That explains it - the old Babelfish Welsh-English translation service strikes again! :lol: :lol:

Well, I have heard spark plugs sometimes called candles......not often and donkey's ages ago. Simply comes from the Italian for spark plugs: Candela.

Assuming anyone is now awake, I shall depart softly........

#13 Tim Murray

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 17:32

Originally posted by f1steveuk
A language of its own?

"for sure" ;)

Have you noticed how this one is gradually drifting into general (ie non-motorsport) use? I heard a UK politician use it the other day, in a radio interview.

#14 kayemod

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 18:03

Originally posted by f1steveuk
A language of it's own?

"for sure" ;)


That particular one is nothing new of course. I first remember encountering this expression some time in the early 70s. Colin Chapman had just come back from a spell in Indianapolis, and was peppering his speech with all kinds of Americanisms like "for sure". It was a bit confusing for people more used to Norfolk dialect, or who hadn't travelled a lot, but this affectation soon wore off, and he was speaking normally again in only a few weeks.

#15 sterling49

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 18:09

Originally posted by kayemod


That particular one is nothing new of course. I first remember encountering this expression some time in the early 70s. Colin Chapman had just come back from a spell in Indianapolis, and was peppering his speech with all kinds of Americanisms like "for sure". It was a bit confusing for people more used to Norfolk dialect, or who hadn't travelled a lot, but this affectation soon wore off, and he was speaking normally again in only a few weeks.


Anyone speaking with Felipe Massa, would be bombarded with them "for sure" ;)

#16 Formula Once

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 18:10

In case of Brambilla 'electrics' meant crash, while when Mansell said 'we had a terribly tough race' what he really tried to say was 'I cruised to an easy victory'.

#17 scheivlak

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 18:17

Originally posted by D-Type

On a similar note, there are several words and terms that motor sport has introduced to the language and some are now that well known that they are in general usage (eg politicians' speeeches):

grand prix

Like quite a few other motorsport terms "Grand Prix" was used earlier in horse racing, see e.g. http://galop.courses...s-1860-1889.php

#18 Mistron

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 19:35

Originally posted by D-Type

Le Mans start (used in sailing)


'scuse my ignorance, but how does that work?

Do they run across the jetty, or swim to the boat?

I do hope it's the latter!

#19 RS2000

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 19:52

In UK at least, motorsport has still to outgrow its other early horse racing/jockey club terminology/practices:
Clerk of the Course (who doesn't do the main "clerking")
Paddock (which everyone complains about if it's still grass)
Stewards of the Meeting (who don't actively "steward" anyone in the normal sense)
Secretary of the Meeting (who does all the "clerking")
Unelected Governing Body...(sorry but that's still as true as it was 100 years ago...)...

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#20 Mr Plug

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 20:06

Originally posted by RS2000

Stewards of the Meeting (who don't actively "steward" anyone in the normal sense)


....except as in 'Bar' !

#21 fbarrett

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 20:22

What about euphemisms?

TV commentators drive me crazy when they use the puny phrase "made contact with" instead of the much more descriptive "crashed, hit, smashed into, brushed, slammed into, bashed, nerfed, tapped, bumped, took out, whacked," etc.

Frank

#22 Stephen W

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 20:35

Originally posted by fbarrett
What about euphemisms?

TV commentators drive me crazy when they use the puny phrase "made contact with" instead of the much more descriptive "crashed, hit, smashed into, brushed, slammed into, bashed, nerfed, tapped, bumped, took out, whacked," etc.

Frank


Another euphemism for crash is "comes to an abrupt halt" then there is "shunted" made more melodic when coupled with Hunt - as in Hunt the Shunt!

:wave:

#23 Macca

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 20:40

There are lots of words borrowed from plain English that have a specific, instantly recognisable, motor-racing meaning.........wishbone, tub, 'box (wherein 'dogs'), rim, pads, etc, etc.

And there are abbreviations and euphomisms used which are instantly clear and specific to cars, such as rad, shocker, tow, etc..........

Paul M

#24 RStock

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 20:51

I suppose it depends on where your from as to what you are familiar with on this subject . A few I know of from stateside racing

Engine - Lump , or Mill

Throttle - Loud Pedal

Front Bumper - Chrome Horn

Pistons - Slugs

Cam - Bumpstick

Nerf Bars - Kick rails

#25 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 23:41

A few more.
Engine - donk, mill, motor, handgrenade [usually associated with turbo engines!]
Turbo charger - hairdryer, turbo. And these days in advertising lots of things are turbocharged or turbo
Supercharger - blower, huffer
Camshaft/s - bumpstick/s
Brakes - stoppers, anchors
Understeer - push, tight
Oversteer - loose
Carburettors - carbs, carbies, jugs
Shock adsorbers - shocks, dampers

#26 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 23:43

Accelarator pedal -- go pedal
Brake pedal - whoa pedal

#27 markpde

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 00:15

Originally posted by Stephen W


Another euphemism for crash is "comes to an abrupt halt" then there is "shunted" made more melodic when coupled with Hunt - as in Hunt the Shunt!

:wave:

Brings to mind that song the Hesketh team sang which went...

Our driver's James Hunt - they call him The Shunt

Can't quite remember the next line but the rhyme for 'Shunt' was...

...a bit of a naughty boy...

Never did understand that, although I remember it was always sung with a pause before 'naughty boy'... :lol:

#28 RStock

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 01:12

Originally posted by Lee Nicolle
Accelarator pedal -- go pedal
Brake pedal - whoa pedal


Our car was named the whoa-go . The ladies who watched from the stands bestowed that name upon it . They said during the race they were constantly shouting while , alternatly cringing with eyes closed ," WHOA ! WHOA ! " then jumping up and down " GO ! GO ! "

#29 ianselva

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:09

Originally posted by Smudger
That would be normal, and it's called 'register' - all occupations and interests have them. Often they are used to show membership and to exclude outsiders.

It was actually the prewar Velocette designer Harold Willis who used these phrases ,he also started 'double knocker/ for twin OHC

#30 CoulthardD

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:39

Which of the Swedish rally drivers first coined "maximum attack"? Markku Alen?

DC

#31 kayemod

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:47

Originally posted by fbarrett
What about euphemisms?

TV commentators drive me crazy when they use the puny phrase "made contact with" instead of the much more descriptive "crashed, hit, smashed into, brushed, slammed into, bashed, nerfed, tapped, bumped, took out, whacked," etc.

Frank


The euphemism that always irritated me most of all, usually from that 'Master of the Microphone' Murray Walker was the rather coy "Coming together". It always sounded to me more like a matronly euphemism for sexual intercourse from someone like Barbara Cartland.

#32 f1steveuk

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 10:17

Originally posted by Tim Murray

Have you noticed how this one is gradually drifting into general (ie non-motorsport) use? I heard a UK politician use it the other day, in a radio interview.


Really? Oh dear!

#33 f1steveuk

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 10:20

Originally posted by scheivlak
Like quite a few other motorsport terms "Grand Prix" was used earlier in horse racing, see e.g. http://galop.courses...s-1860-1889.php


But as I heard constantly during the years we covered the US Grand Prix at Indy', "Gee Pee" probably hasn't been used for other sports!

Euphemisms, "crash or accident" = forced parking as in "he was forced to park quickly"

Carbs equalling "jugs", not in my world! Jugs =  ;)

#34 RS2000

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 11:00

Originally posted by CoulthardD
Which of the Swedish rally drivers first coined "maximum attack"? Markku Alen?
DC

Probably was Alen - can't really think of anyone else using it (Marcus Gronholm maybe). There would certainly be a maximum attack heading this way for calling a Finn a Swede! Alen's speciality was a unique language all of his own that mixed Finnish, Italian (from his long time at Lancia) and English. He was always meticulous in thanking the "English spectatori" for pushing him back on...even if it was Scotland.

#35 sterling49

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 11:33

Originally posted by RS2000

Probably was Alen - can't really think of anyone else using it (Marcus Gronholm maybe). There would certainly be a maximum attack heading this way for calling a Finn a Swede! Alen's speciality was a unique language all of his own that mixed Finnish, Italian (from his long time at Lancia) and English. He was always meticulous in thanking the "English spectatori" for pushing him back on...even if it was Scotland.


It was Marku, the "Italian Fying Finn", he said it on a programme on the R.A.C. once, and the phrase stuck, it's great, maximum attack, so more unusual than "flat out" ! A great driver, I remember his "roll" in the works RS1600 in (IIRC) the 1973 R.A.C., down to last place and back to 3rd o/all by the end = MAXIMUM ATTACK :up:

#36 Doug Nye

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 14:28

It seems to me that there's a bunch of completely imaginary twaddle being quoted in this thread, beginning with the original post.

When Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix' was premiered in London so far as I recall we were presented with a booklet as we went in, summarising the so-called 'plot', but also offering a glossary of alleged 'race driver jargon'. It included entries, again if I recall correctly, like "He bought the orchard" which, we were assured, was racing speak meaning "He crashed into the trees" - and all kinds of other nonsense which we had certainly never heard this side of the Atlantic, and which I doubt had ever been colloquial useage outside the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Does anyone else recall that booklet/pamphlet - or better still have a copy????

DCN

#37 PhilG

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 14:32

Originally posted by f1steveuk
A language of it's own?

"for sure" ;)


LOL at that , said it in my only TV interview, much to my own annoyance

#38 markpde

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 14:45

Originally posted by Doug Nye
It seems to me that there's a bunch of completely imaginary twaddle being quoted in this thread, beginning with the original post.

When Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix' was premiered in London so far as I recall we were presented with a booklet as we went in, summarising the so-called 'plot', but also offering a glossary of alleged 'race driver jargon'. It included entries, again if I recall correctly, like "He bought the orchard" which, we were assured, was racing speak meaning "He crashed into the trees" - and all kinds of other nonsense which we had certainly never heard this side of the Atlantic, and which I doubt had ever been colloquial useage outside the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Does anyone else recall that booklet/pamphlet - or better still have a copy????

DCN

I guess "bought the orchard" is supposed to be a variation of "bought the farm"* - albeit in the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter! That booklet/pamphlet would be quite a collector's item, for all the wrong reasons! :rolleyes:

*(an expression I've seen Mario Andretti use - about the lethal Langhorne Speedway circuit - a fair few of his predecessors and contemporaries "bought the farm" there. But not the orchard.)

#39 RS2000

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 15:21

Need some US input but does "bought the farm" not have some CIA origins - and a double meaning (also: "retired to a smallholding in Northern Virginia"?)

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#40 f1steveuk

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 15:27

The first time I heard the term "brought the farm" it was Al Sheperd talking about the the Apollo 1 fire.

#41 ianselva

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 15:32

Originally posted by Doug Nye
It seems to me that there's a bunch of completely imaginary twaddle being quoted in this thread, beginning with the original post.

When Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix' was premiered in London so far as I recall we were presented with a booklet as we went in, summarising the so-called 'plot', but also offering a glossary of alleged 'race driver jargon'. It included entries, again if I recall correctly, like "He bought the orchard" which, we were assured, was racing speak meaning "He crashed into the trees" - and all kinds of other nonsense which we had certainly never heard this side of the Atlantic, and which I doubt had ever been colloquial useage outside the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Does anyone else recall that booklet/pamphlet - or better still have a copy????

DCN

It's well documented in Steve Wilsons 'Velocette since 1950' where he also describes how Willis called the Engine test house - the Din House and his nickname for the 1930 supercharged racer was 'Whiffling Clara' . You surely must have heard of Double knocker Norton engines in the 500 Coopers.

#42 Smudger

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 16:11

Originally posted by RS2000
Need some US input but does "bought the farm" not have some CIA origins - and a double meaning (also: "retired to a smallholding in Northern Virginia"?)


I believe it is an expression dating back to at least WW1 in military terms, possibly older. Similar to 'going west' and leads to 'bought it'.

The gloss on that (the Virginia smallholding) is not a double meaning, it is an ironic restatement of the original expression for humorous purposes.

#43 B Squared

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 17:28

When Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix' was premiered in London so far as I recall we were presented with a booklet as we went in, summarising the so-called 'plot', but also offering a glossary of alleged 'race driver jargon'. It included entries, again if I recall correctly, like "He bought the orchard" which, we were assured, was racing speak meaning "He crashed into the trees" - and all kinds of other nonsense which we had certainly never heard this side of the Atlantic, and which I doubt had ever been colloquial useage outside the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Does anyone else recall that booklet/pamphlet - or better still have a copy????

DCN

Mr. Nye, I posted the following in 'Grand Prix' - the out-takes?' 2) days ago. Good chance we are talking about the same book. I seem to remember a glossary in the one I saw too.

I remember my neighbor & childhood friend's family were on vacation in New York city and went to see the movie while there. He came over to house after returning and excitedly was telling my brother & I of this great racing movie, Grand Prix. He had with him a softbound, yellow covered, book, maybe 20) pages, that was purchased at the theatre. It was approximately 14 x 14 in size and was all about the making of the movie, the storyline, and biographies of the key players. I borrowed it for a while, gave it back to Greg, and have never seen another one like it. About 8) years ago, I asked Greg if he may still have it, unfortunately he didn't. Does anyone here remember this book, or even have one? I have the LP soundtrack, it would be nice to add this to the memoribilia collection. Thanks.

Brian

#44 markpde

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 17:56

Originally posted by f1steveuk
The first time I heard the term "bought the farm" it was Al Sheperd talking about the the Apollo 1 fire.

Given that most of the early astronauts, including Al Shepard, were aircraft test pilots (see the movie, 'The Right Stuff'), one theory is that the term derives from the fact that test flights were often conducted over farmland - if an aircraft crashed on a farm, the farmer received compensation from the U.S. government which consequently paid off the mortgage - hence the (usually dead) pilot had "bought the farm"! From what Smudger suggests, though, it could be a lot older. The first time I heard the term actually was Mario Andretti talking about Langhorne.

(Another expression I picked up from 'The Right Stuff' was when Chuck Yeager, played by Sam Sheperd (quite confusing - Scott Glenn played Al Shepard not John Glenn!) suggested, perhaps unfairly, that Gus Grissom had 'screwed the pooch' - never heard that term before or since - I've tried using it myself but always just get blank looks - although Lewis Hamilton 'screwed the pooch' somewhat at Fuji this year (and Shanghai last year)! Glad he made it in the end, though. :) )

#45 RStock

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 19:58

Originally posted by Doug Nye
It seems to me that there's a bunch of completely imaginary twaddle being quoted in this thread, beginning with the original post.

When Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix' was premiered in London so far as I recall we were presented with a booklet as we went in, summarising the so-called 'plot', but also offering a glossary of alleged 'race driver jargon'. It included entries, again if I recall correctly, like "He bought the orchard" which, we were assured, was racing speak meaning "He crashed into the trees" - and all kinds of other nonsense which we had certainly never heard this side of the Atlantic, and which I doubt had ever been colloquial useage outside the dimwit imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

Does anyone else recall that booklet/pamphlet - or better still have a copy????

DCN


Hardly imaginary at all . I can assure you I've heard all those terms that I listed used . As I said , I think it depends on where your from and what discipline of racing you originate from as to what your familiar with . The first time I heard someone say "nerf bars" I had to ask what the heck they meant . We had always called them "kick rails" . Lee Nicolle used the word handgrenade to descibe an engine . I've always heard it used as a verb , as in "he handgreneded the engine" .

I agree some are propagated by media types trying to sound as if they are "in the know" , such as "chrome horn" . I've only heard that used by announcers , and the one I associate it with is certainly familiar with racing . But I'm not going to be conceited enough to say they simply made it up . Perhaps it has been used and is familiar verbage with many others .

One of the things I've loved about listening to the English lads on F-1 coverage is the words they use that I learn , such as "clag" for "marbles" . I don't know if they made that one up or not , but it sounds good .

#46 tedski

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 22:17

Originally posted by ianselva

It was actually the prewar Velocette designer Harold Willis who used these phrases ,he also started 'double knocker/ for twin OHC

you are correct and thank you
REDARMYSOUJA
CLAG was used by WW2 RAF pilots to mean heavy cloud cover i think

#47 D-Type

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 22:50

Originally posted by Mistron


'scuse my ignorance, but how does that work?

Do they run across the jetty, or swim to the boat?

I do hope it's the latter!

To be honest, I only ever came across this once in a local newspaper report obviously based on what the sailing club told them. For the "Le Mans start" race the dinghies were lined up on the beach, the crews had to run down the beach, raise the sails and launch the boat before sailing round a couple of buoys.

#48 marchof73

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 04:22

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA




One of the things I've loved about listening to the English lads on F-1 coverage is the words they use that I learn , such as "clag" for "marbles" . I don't know if they made that one up or not , but it sounds good .


You,ve been listening to David Hobbs too much.Clag is indeed marbles but fliers use clag to mean low thick cloud-it,s also a generic term for anything of a crappy nature.
You,ll also hear Hobbs saying a driver went--"bollocking" into a corner,which means going very fast at the entry,but it,s a word that can,t be defined.For those not in the know bollocks is slang for testicles!!
Interesting that someone said thet candles was slang for sparkplug,i,d never heard that ,but it was pointed out that in Italian sparkplug was candela-indeed in French a sparkplug is called a bougie which also means candle!!
long live Hobbisms on Speed TV,not quite Murray Walker but very amusing
Ian

#49 Allan Lupton

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 09:08

Originally posted by marchof73

Interesting that someone said thet candles was slang for sparkplug,i,d never heard that ,but it was pointed out that in Italian sparkplug was candela-indeed in French a sparkplug is called a bougie which also means candle!!

and in German too.

#50 RStock

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 17:00

Originally posted by marchof73


You,ve been listening to David Hobbs too much.Clag is indeed marbles but fliers use clag to mean low thick cloud-it,s also a generic term for anything of a crappy nature.
You,ll also hear Hobbs saying a driver went--"bollocking" into a corner,which means going very fast at the entry,but it,s a word that can,t be defined.For those not in the know bollocks is slang for testicles!!
Interesting that someone said thet candles was slang for sparkplug,i,d never heard that ,but it was pointed out that in Italian sparkplug was candela-indeed in French a sparkplug is called a bougie which also means candle!!
long live Hobbisms on Speed TV,not quite Murray Walker but very amusing
Ian


Yes , long live Hobbsie . I'm in the know about "bollocks" because of him . A good friend of mine is English , and I regularly have to ask for an interpretaion in our conversations . Concerning a launguage I'm not fluent in , such as the "Queens English" , the first things I try to learn are the "blue" words , so I'll know what people are saying about me . As an example , I don't speak much Spanish , but I can someone give a good " cussin' " in it .

But the more thought I give this subject , the more I think Doug Nye is right about how much of this nomenclature is regularly used , and how much is brought about by someone in the media . I'm only speaking about the list I gave earlier , words such as "bumpstick , for cam . I don't think I know of anyone who uses that term to describe one , we usually just call it a camshaft . I think I've become familiar with those types of words from reading magazines and listening to race announcers and watching car shows on the telly . They're not imaginary , but theses are not terms that come up in regular conversation .