Ted Smith’s Claude Butler Olympic Sprint
In the bike shop we sometimes get questions about this old bike racer named Claude Butler who seemed to be so famous in the 1940′s and ’50′s. We’ll try to set the record straight with this example.
Claude Butler is the guy who built this bike and Ted Smith is the one who raced it.
Ted Smith was quite an accomplished track racer, winning the Omnium at the National Championships in 1945, ’47 and again in 1948. Additionally, Ted was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1948 London Games.
Ted was slated to ride the road race as well as the team pursuit at the London games. Politics and personal conflicts have derailed many Olympic plans over the years, and Ted’s experience in 1948 was no exception. National team coaches dropped Ted from the road race roster after he competed in local pre-Olympic British races against their instructions… Ted, primarily a track guy, complained that he merely needed some miles on his road bike to get used to operating a derailleur.
Ted did end up racing in the 4000 meter team pursuit event, with the U.S. Squad getting 9th place with a best time of 5:22.
To give you an idea of how aerodynamics, bicycle technology, training and even the technology involved with modern helmets and clothing has progressed in bike racing over the years, here is a comparison: The U.S. womens team did the 4000m team pursuit in Rio in a time of 4:14. That’s fast enough to lap the ’48 mens team 4 times on the 250 meter Rio velodrome.