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Gordon Bennett! It's Bloody Mary! (merged)


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#1 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:07

Some of you may be familiar with the BBC TV programme Balderdash & Piffle, which seeks to identify word and phrase origins for the Oxford English Dictionary. Among the ones they're currently looking for are the exclamation "Gordon Bennett!" and "Bloody Mary".

I've seen claims that "Gordon Bennett" was used as an exclamation of surprise and fury at the exhorbitant prices charges by the locals during the 1903 running of the GBT/Coupe Internationale in Ireland. Anyone got any firm evidence of that one? Currently the OED's first citation is from an episode of "Till Death Us Do Part" in 1967. (Was Johnny Speight a motor racing man??)

And how did the Bolster Special become "Bloody Mary"? Did John name it after Queen Mary or was he a devotee of vodka and tomato juice? Legend has it the cocktail was invented in Harry's Bar in the 20s, but is there any connection? The OED can only trace "bloody Mary" back to 1956 and a reference in Punch.

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#2 Darren Galpin

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:17

Charleston Gazette, 18th July 1952, pg 6

"As for the Bloody Mary, Georgie invented and christened it several years ago in Palm Beach after a rich night of champagne when any doghair was indicated and he had only abottle of vodka and a can of tomato juice to work with. 50-50, it worked wonders he said."

#3 ian senior

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:53

Originally posted by Vitesse2
I've seen claims that "Gordon Bennett" was used as an exclamation of surprise and fury at the exhorbitant prices charges by the locals during the 1903 running of the GBT/Coupe Internationale in Ireland. Anyone got any firm evidence of that one? Currently the OED's first citation is from an episode of "Till Death Us Do Part" in 1967. (Was Johnny Speight a motor racing man??


Incredibly, the OED is wrong - the expression was used in a 1962 episode of Steptoe and Son. I think there MIGHT be a grain of truth in the fury expressed by the locals at the prices in the 1903 GBT. You can well imagine them going - "Gawd almighty - Gordon Bennett" or something similar.

#4 ensign14

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:45

Originally posted by ian senior
You can well imagine them going - "Gawd almighty - Gordon Bennett" or something similar.

I can imagine a Cockney saying that, but not someone with an Irish accent.

Far more likely to me to have arisen in London as a way of avoiding blasphemy (a la Gorblimey for God blind me) - someone catches themselves blaspheming and merely extends what they are saying to something less offensive*. Maybe music hall after JGB literally pissed away a society marriage. But to find it in writing...

* attested in Aristophanes, 5th century BC...

#5 Terry Walker

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:56

According to Bill Bryson's book "Made in America", the origin of the phrase "Gordon Bennett" comes from James Gordon Bennett, the US newspaper baron.

Apparently he "liked to announce his arrival in a restaurant by yanking the tablecloths from all the tables he passed. He would then hand the manager a wad of cash with which to compensate his victims for their lost meals and spattered attire. Though long forgotten in his native land, Bennett and his exploits - usually involving prodigious drinking before and lavish restitution after - were once world famous, and indeed his name lives on in England in the cry 'Gordon Bennett!', usually uttered by someone who has just been drenched by a clumsy waiter or otherwise exposed to some exasperating indignity." (paperback edition p 105).

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:59

The fury wasn't expressed by the locals, but the visitors! They'd have been English :p

Brendan Lynch quotes the Autocar in "Green Dust":

Jarveys unblushingly asked for ten shillings a seat from Athy to Ardscull, while twopenny mineral waters cost sixpence at the meanest shebeen.



#7 Darren Galpin

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 13:20

So nothing to do with Lt-Gen H.Gordon Bennett, former Commander-in-Chief of Australian forces in Malaya during WW2? I did a quick newspaper search and found nothing on the term, but did uncover this Aussie GB.

#8 Sharman

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 14:08

Ref Balderdash & Piffle :- in one of the previous editions the subject of the phrase bog standard was raised, the "panel" woffled around and appeared to conclude that it referred to Standard & Triumph and had not grasped that the "standard " referred to in that title was actually just that and that the name in its entirety was Flying Standard ie a waving banner depicted on the badge. There source was a partsman who claimed to have been in the motor industry for over 40 years. Not long enough obviously

#9 FLB

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 14:13

'Gordon Bennett!' was used as an exclamation in the various Red Dwarf series as well.

#10 Allan Lupton

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 14:41

John Bolster's "Bloody Mary" started life in 1929 according to JVB himself, both in "Specials" and in "Profile 75". What he doesn't seem to tell us is where the name came from, but it seems to have been called that from the beginning.
Referring to BM running on methanol based fuel, JVB says that "she seems to enjoy her alcohol as much as her owner does his" - and we who remember him remember that!
Therefore my vote is with the cocktail rather than the queen - but perhaps JVB's daughter might know.
Anent Gordon Bennett, I don't remember it being used as an expletive until recent (1960s) times which seems a long time after Athy.
Can it really be simply that it was an invention of the Steptoe & Son scriptwriter and didn't have any continuous history from either Gordon Bennett himself, or the races run for his trophy.

#11 ian senior

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 14:51

Apparantly there's a pub in Surbiton called the Gordon Bennett, although this may well be a recent re-naming of yet another Marquis of Granby or something similar.

#12 bradbury west

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 16:23

Originally posted by ensign14

Far more likely to me to have arisen in London as a way of avoiding blasphemy (a la Gorblimey for God blind me) - someone catches themselves blaspheming and merely extends what they are saying to something less offensive*.
* attested in Aristophanes, 5th century BC...


As also seen in Gawd Strewth, for God's Truth, for "May God's truth strike me dumb " or some such derivation.

Roger Lund.

#13 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:39

Contemporary race reports often call Bolster's car simply 'Mary' . No doubt this was an effort to spare the blushes of the more refined readership...

#14 ian senior

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:49

Originally posted by simonlewisbooks
Contemporary race reports often call Bolster's car simply 'Mary' . No doubt this was an effort to spare the blushes of the more refined readership...


This reminds me of the way that my cousin was made to suffer at the hands of his prudish mother when she heard him listening to the Supertramp track "Bloody Well Right". She couldn't believe that anyone would record a song that included swearing. I dread to think what would have happened to him if she'd caught the intro to Ian Dury's "Plaistow Patricia".

#15 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 11:34

Originally posted by ian senior


This reminds me of the way that my cousin was made to suffer at the hands of his prudish mother when she heard him listening to the Supertramp track "Bloody Well Right". She couldn't believe that anyone would record a song that included swearing. I dread to think what would have happened to him if she'd caught the intro to Ian Dury's "Plaistow Patricia".


Imagine what she'd have thought of BIG BROTHER ..... or Gordon Ramsey !

I was once told (too young to have heard him myself I'm afraid) that Bolster had a habit of slipping some saucy double-meanings into his radio commentary in much the same way as THE GOONS and ROUND THE HORN.

"And why did you have to stop ?"
"Piston broke I'm afraid John."
"Pist-'n-broke ? Know that feeling very well old boy!"

Or something like...a long way from that infamous Senna press conference at Suzuka!

#16 Pete Stowe

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 14:40

I couldn’t spot any clues in Bolster’s autobiography “Motoring is my Business” why he called the car Bloody Mary, but apparently the British taxation authorities didn’t like that name, and registered it as “Composite, with JAP engine” with number KR 4544.

Bolster also put the colour down as ‘aluminium’ on the basis of if they ever got around to building a body it would be too much to expect that they would paint it.

#17 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 14:52

There was also a story that with both Bolster brothers having built specials that ocassionally ran on the road it was an amazing coincidence that their number plates appeared to be the same....

#18 Tim Murray

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 17:28

. . . which is why, as Bolster says, they could never travel anywhere in close proximity to each other.

#19 Ian McKean

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 11:38

I watched a little bit of a TV programme called Balderdash yesterday. I had never heard of it before, but it seems to be about the derivation of words or expressions for inclusion in the next version of the Oxford English Dictionary. Joe Public is challenged to find documentary evidence for the earliest use of the word or expression (if I understood it correctly).

Anyway, one of the expressions considered in last night's programme was "Bloody Mary". Apparently legend has it that it was invented in the early 1920's in Harry's Bar in Paris but the earliest documentary reference that they could find on the programme dated from 1939. I think it was a book.

Well I have always assumed that John Bolster's Bloody Mary was named after the cocktail, but I suppose it is possible that he named Mary after our last Catholic Queen. This seems so improbable though as John Bolster liked his alcohol as much as Mary liked hers, or vice versa, according to his book "Specials".

So I emailed the prgramme makers as follows,

Hi,

Just been watching your programme which I have never seen before.

I was interested in your search for written evidence of the drink/term "Bloody Mary" which you have apparently traced back to 1939.

I suspect that Harry's Bar in Paris in the 1920's could well have been the origin of the cocktail but feel sure that the motor racing set in this country were very familiar with the cocktail by the late 1920's.

The late John Bolster's first special, which, according to his well-known book "Specials", originated in 1929, was called "Bloody Mary". I have always assumed that it (or she) was named after the cocktail. I would say it was inconceivable that she was NOT named after the cocktail.

See http://www.prewarcar...irstRecord=1492

Regards,

Ian McKean

Can anyone add anything to the question why did Bloody Mary (the car) get her name?

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#20 flat-16

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 12:40

They were also discussing the origins of the term "Gordon Bennett"

http://www.bbc.co.uk...owerethey.shtml


Justin

#21 Sharman

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 14:55

Or was it that Bloody Mary (Tudor that is) killed a lot of people and that JVB felt that Bloody Mary (JAP that is) might have similar murderous tendencies?

#22 Tim Murray

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 15:59

We batted these around a bit a while back:

Gordon Bennett! It's Bloody Mary!

#23 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 18:30

Balderdash & Piffle is the full name, presented by the delightful young Miss Coren. :love:


An always entertaining half-hour. One of these days I'll find out when they're doing their wordhunts in advance as with a large old newspaper collection online, I'm sure I can find something given the time & chance. :)

#24 ensign14

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 19:17

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
Balderdash & Piffle is the full name, presented by the delightful young Miss Coren. :love:

Oi! I saw her first. :lol:

She is the European Poker Champ, incidentally. Which was worth £500k. A very sharp cookie indeed.

#25 Ian McKean

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 20:50

Originally posted by Tim Murray
We batted these around a bit a while back:

Gordon Bennett! It's Bloody Mary!


Sorry to have overlooked the previous thread!

#26 Bloggsworth

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 16:53

Also daughter of Alan Coren, one of the world's funniest talkers.

#27 ensign14

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 18:17

Having just watched the episode, I'm pretty certain it's unlikely Bolster named his car after the cocktail. If the chap at the Savoy had not heard of the cocktail in the early fifties, and the 1939 newspaper attributed the drink to that American actor (which supported his autobiography claim to have invented it), it must be far more likely that Bolster named it after Queen Mary. Maybe because the car was a bit of a handful?

#28 subh

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 19:27

Originally posted by ensign14

Oi! I saw her first. :lol:

She is the European Poker Champ, incidentally. Which was worth £500k. A very sharp cookie indeed.


I’m going to suggest that I saw her first....

#29 Darren Galpin

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 07:16

Richie - I beat you to it! Hence why "Wolf-Whistle" was anti-dated to 1944, thanks to the Fresno Bee newspaper. One more program to go, one more chance for an anti-dating!

#30 Stephen W

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:12

Originally posted by ensign14
Having just watched the episode, I'm pretty certain it's unlikely Bolster named his car after the cocktail. If the chap at the Savoy had not heard of the cocktail in the early fifties, and the 1939 newspaper attributed the drink to that American actor (which supported his autobiography claim to have invented it), it must be far more likely that Bolster named it after Queen Mary. Maybe because the car was a bit of a handful?


I seem to remember that there was an award at Shelsley Walsh a few years back of a "Bloody Mary" Tantalus with one decanter containing Tomato Juice and the second containing Vodka. The recipient was David Gould and he got the award for the Gould-Hart 84. I also seem to remember there was a reference to John Bolster.

There is no explanation of the source of the title Bloody Mary in John Bolster's book Specials. However in Chris Mason's UPHILL RACERS it is explained thus:

"Titled 'composite with JAP engine' by the uncomprehending tax-man, 'Mary' or 'The Tudor Queen' by coy journalists in a less permissive age than at the present, and plain 'Bloody Mary' by everyone else"

:cool:

#31 ensign14

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:21

Heh, looks like ex post facto justification. Or they got arrested trying to exhume Mary I for a trophy.

#32 Sharman

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 13:23

Bloody Mary is the girl I love!!!

#33 Alan Lewis

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 18:56

Originally posted by Stephen W


I seem to remember that there was an award at Shelsley Walsh a few years back of a "Bloody Mary" Tantalus with one decanter containing Tomato Juice and the second containing Vodka. The recipient was David Gould and he got the award for the Gould-Hart 84. I also seem to remember there was a reference to John Bolster.

There is no explanation of the source of the title Bloody Mary in John Bolster's book Specials. However in Chris Mason's UPHILL RACERS it is explained thus:

"Titled 'composite with JAP engine' by the uncomprehending tax-man, 'Mary' or 'The Tudor Queen' by coy journalists in a less permissive age than at the present, and plain 'Bloody Mary' by everyone else"

:cool:


It was the John Bolster Award, inaugurated after his death (in 1984?) and won by various hillclimb constructors whose efforts reflected the ethos of John and Richard Bolster and their Shelsley Specials, I believe. It's still going, but now as a more corporate part of the annual Autosport Awards bash each December, and I don't think it has much or the original idea behind it anymore.

APL

#34 Stephen W

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 10:35

Originally posted by Alan Lewis


It was the John Bolster Award, inaugurated after his death (in 1984?) and won by various hillclimb constructors whose efforts reflected the ethos of John and Richard Bolster and their Shelsley Specials, I believe. It's still going, but now as a more corporate part of the annual Autosport Awards bash each December, and I don't think it has much or the original idea behind it anymore.

APL


That is a real shame. The Speed Events community in Britain is a hot-bed of innovation with many self-built appearing each year. The fact it has been 'high-jacked' by the corporate suits is probably why I have lost track of it!

:(

#35 2F-001

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 11:06

I believe other speed-eventing recipients of the John Bolster tantalus included Phil Kidsley/Paul Squires and Nic Mann; does anyone recall others?

#36 Stephen W

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 16:43

Just had an exchange of emails with David Gould. He was the FIRST recipient of the John Bolster Trophy in 1986. He won it in 1986 and it was presented to him by Rosemary Bolster.

Amongst the subsequent winners have been Ray Rowan and Phil Kidsley.

Alan Lewis is spot-on when he says that the trophy has been high-jacked by the Autosport Awards and the winners now tend to come from the Grand Prix world. Shame really as all these modern F1 cars look the same and the Trophy was really supposed to be for one-off specials like Bloody Mary!

:(

#37 Alan Lewis

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 18:33

Well, well, look what I've found hidden in my yellowing olde notes that I will one day commit to electronic media.

The notes go up to 2000 and thus cover the "real" JB Trophy up to, I assume from the names, 1989, and will almost certainly have been sourced from the relevant issue of the magazine each year.

The subsequent years are from last December's Autosport which I haven't thrown out yet...like all the issues from 2001ish, because I have yet to commit the info to my yellowing olde notes...

The list of winners in the Autosport issue go back to Ray Rowan in '89, reinforcing the "changeover" being sometime around then. December's Autosport also refers to the "John Bolster Award", not "Trophy", and Pierre Dupasquier is shown holding one of their "standard" stylised winged figurines that all the Autosport Award winners get - so the tantalus almost certainly went west at the same time, though of course, you'd need pictures of the relevant ceremonies to be sure.

1985, David Gould for the Gould-Hart 84/2
1986, Paul Squires for the Brabham-Laysholm BT28
1987, Karl Schollar for Spectre-KTM
1988, George Bewley for the Bewley-Jawa
1989, Ray Rowan for the Roman-Hart IVH
1990, Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite for the Tyrrell-Cosworth 019
1991, The Jaguar XJR-14 (My notes have "Ross Brawn for the Jaguar XJR-14".)
1992, Patrick Head for the Williams-Renault FW14B
1993, McLaren International for the McLaren-Cosworth MP4/8
1994, Mercedes-Benz for the 500I engine (that was the Indycar one wasn't it?)
1995, The McLaren F1 GTR (My notes have "McLaren International for the McLaren F1 GTR".)
1996, Renault Sport for the Renault V10 Formula 1 engine
1997, Thrust SSC
1998, Ken Tyrrell (at this point I've stopped writing "for..."; I have no idea why after all these years - I assume Ken got his Trophy for...being Uncle Ken)
1999, Jackie Stewart and Don Panoz (Two awards.)
2000, Audi
2001, Roger Penske
2002, Ross Brawn
2003, Ralph Firman Sr.
2004, Honda
2005, Pat Symonds and John Force (Two awards.)
2006, Michelin (The Autosport piece shows that it was accepted by Pierre Dupasquier, and presented by Carlos Reutemann.)

APL

#38 2F-001

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 18:44

Well, I was completely wrong about Nic Mann then. Didn't the award, in its original incarnation have some focus on 'Shelsley specials" ?

Hasn't there also been a "Gregor Grant Award"? (more of a lifetime-achievement sort of thing); some of the names on the list (certainly among the more recent ones) seem to be appropriate candidates for that one, rather than for specific projects recognized just prior to the awards being made.

#39 Alan Lewis

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 19:07

Originally posted by 2F-001
Well, I was completely wrong about Nic Mann then. Didn't the award, in its original incarnation have some focus on 'Shelsley specials" ?

Hasn't there also been a "Gregor Grant Award"? (more of a lifetime-achievement sort of thing); some of the names on the list (certainly among the more recent ones) seem to be appropriate candidates for that one, rather than for specific projects recognized just prior to the awards being made.


Yes, I think that was the original idea; recognising innovative hillclimb cars in the spirit of Bloody Mary herself. Though these days, of course, they get used more widely than just Shelsley.

I agree about Nic Mann, he should have had one; I used to love watching that Morris Minor go up Shelsley, and seeing his latest creation at the Centenary Shelsley last year was something else.

Anyway, since I have the relevant issue at hand...

The Gregor Grant Award...

1989, John Webb
1990, Mario Andretti
1991, Eric Broadley and Mazda (Two awards)
1992, Bobby Rahal
1993, Murray Walker and Colin McRae (Two awards)
1994, Alain Prost
1995, Leo Mehl and Emerson Fittipaldi (Two awards)
1996, Dale Earnhardt and Jabby Crombac (Two awards)
1997, Johnny Mowlem
1998, Lord March, Klaus Ludwig and Alex Zanardi (Three awards)
1999, Professor Sid Watkins
2000, Hannu Mikkola
2001, Sir Frank Williams and Juan Pablo Montoya (Two awards)
2002, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tom Wheatcroft (Two awards)
2003, Scuderia Ferrari, Alex Zanardi and Fernando Alonso (Three awards)
2004, Carlos Sainz
2005, Tom Kristensen and Bernie Ecclestone (Two awards)
2006, Sir Jack Brabham, James Winslow and Andy Priaulx (Three awards)

APL

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#40 2F-001

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 19:33

And that list brings us back, nicely, to another hillclimber! (Well, an ex-hillclimber...)

#41 Sharman

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 20:19

Looking at the list I am sure GG would have hated for Bernie to get an award

#42 ensign14

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 13:59

My OED "Word Of The Day" for the British GP day was as follows:

parc fermé, n. DRAFT ENTRY June 2005

Chiefly Motor Racing.

Brit. /pk fme/, /pk fme/, U.S. /prk frme/ Forms: 19- parc ferme, 19- parc fermé. [< French parc fermé < parc enclosure (see PARK n.) + fermé, past participle of fermer to close (see FERM v.). Cf. car-park n. at CAR n.1 Compounds Cf. earlier PARC n.]

An enclosure or paddock for vehicles, esp. for racing vehicles before or after a race.

1958 Times 21 Oct. 4/7 On arrival at Monte Carlo the competitors will be free to leave the finishing control, after the usual formalities..before returning their cars to the parc ferme. 1986 Dirt Bike Rider July 45/4 Thieves had been able to enter the supposedly guarded parc ferme, select bikes and get clean away. 1999 F1 Racing Nov. 99/1 He's the shadowy figure directing the first three finishers from parc fermé to the rostrum.



Surely we can find an ante-dating for this?

#43 Alan Lewis

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 18:21

What a brilliant idea - and indubitably a worthwhile TNF-related task.

So; the overnight holding of the cars in the first Grand Prix in 1906 - do any of the original reports use the term? (Though I assume the OED would insist on English sources, not French ones...?)

APL

#44 Stephen W

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:11

Originally posted by Alan Lewis
What a brilliant idea - and indubitably a worthwhile TNF-related task.

So; the overnight holding of the cars in the first Grand Prix in 1906 - do any of the original reports use the term? (Though I assume the OED would insist on English sources, not French ones...?)

APL


How could they insist on English sources if it is a French term? After all they accept American sources for many, many words.

In the meantime I'll start double checking some of the early Motor Racing books.

:wave:

#45 Darren Galpin

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:25

Because what is at issue is when was the term first used as part of the English language. The French usage would be part of the entymology, but wouldn't be indicative of the first usage in English.

#46 2F-001

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 13:25

Etymology though, I think :)

Entymology - ot rather, entomology - does have an obscure motorsport link though, being the study of "Kreepy Kraulies" (if that is the correct plural for a robot cleaners 'Marching' across swimming-pool bottoms)!

I'll get my coat...

#47 Mallory Dan

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 14:03

Very good Tony, aren't they adept at 'Marching' across 'Porches' aswell...Especially in Florida about 23 and a half years ago...

#48 Stephen W

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 14:07

Originally posted by 2F-001
Etymology though, I think :)

Entymology - ot rather, entomology - does have an obscure motorsport link though, being the study of "Kreepy Kraulies" (if that is the correct plural for a robot cleaners 'Marching' across swimming-pool bottoms)!

I'll get my coat...


And there was me thinking it was to do with Bugattis!

:drunk:

#49 2F-001

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 14:17

Doubtless, someone will mention Scarab before long!

#50 Sharman

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 16:06

Or long before that the Wolseley Moth