The death of time trialling great Ray Booty has been reported on the Cycling Time Trials website.

A number of friends and associates had told the organisation that he had passed away in his sleep on Saturday night following a fight with cancer. 

When Nottingham’s Ray Booty of  Ericsson Wheelers famously broke the four-hour barrier for 100 miles in the Bath Road Club Classic in 1956, it made the national headlines, for this ranked alongside Roger Bannister’s sub-four minute mile.

“Booty the incomparable, the incredible, the indomitable” ran the Daily Herald headline. It was the third competition record for the ‘100’ by the tall, bespectacled ‘Boot’ as he was affectionately known. 

Booty’s time of 3-58-28 gave him victory by over 11 minutes, and won him Cycling’s gold medal offered to the first man to beat the magic four hours and average 25mph. And this latest epic was achieved riding a fixed gear of 84 inches.

Second was Stan Brittain, who would finish second in the famous international stage race, the Peace Race in Eastern Europe the following year. Double Milk Race winner Bill Bradley was fifth fastest, while Alan Jackson, the Olympic bronze medallist at Melbourne was sixth; with future Giro d’Italia stage winner Vin Denson fourteenth.

In 1954 Booty won the prestigious Manx International road race. And in 1958, he became Commonwealth Games road race champion at Cardiff.

But it is for his victories against the watch for which Booty will always be remembered. He dominated the sport of time trialling in the 1950s. In 1955 he became ‘100’ champion at York, in 4-04-30, winning by over five minutes and taking two minutes one second of the record.

In 1956, he retained the title with another comp record, in 4-1-52. Then, the very next month, on August Bank Holiday Monday, he became famous for all time when he famously beat four hours.

The following month he broke the Road Records Association straight out 100 in 3 hours 28 minutes 40 seconds. The record stood for 34 years!

Booty’s style was unmistakable

Booty was a legend of the British time trial scene

  • mick.rankine

    good memories of the 1956 era.i rememember ray riding on the forest recreation circuit,rest in peace ray you are always remembered.

  • Reg Woodward

    I have a photograph of Ray cycling at the Ericsson sports day.

  • Mick Ward

    A magazine published an article on old Ray. My reply, a piece headed,
    ” I Slept with Ray Booty” may never have been considered. Opened even.
    It was true however. The humorous organiser had given us a double bed
    to share, a commonplace thing in the 50s.
    We lay side by side in a double bed. My cold was peaking.
    “Terribly sorry about this Ray, you could do without my germs”,
    then too quickly perhaps,
    “How do you think I’ll go with this awful cold?”
    He paused long enough for me appear anxious for his words of wisdom,
    “Don’t worry Mick.. ”
    Yes yes, I thought, what encouragement is he about to give?
    |”…you’ll go like a bomb till about the 10hr point… ”
    He’s right, I thought, that is the turning point, I had ridden a 12 earlier,
    “….then you’ll just blow up! ”
    I do not remember sleeping one wink.
    RIP, Ray. Mick Ward

  • Vance Harvey

    Interesting to see that The Times has done a full page obituary today – Sat 22nd Sept – on Ray Booty.

    One normally has to be a very famous and influential person to get a complete 1 page obituary in The Times – so it just shows how great the paper considers Ray Booty was.

    Cycling is definitely coming of age when this type of occurrence happens.

  • Ian Moffat

    I worked with Ray in the sixties in Carlisle. We walked in the lakes and in Austria together. He could walk too! RIP.

  • Colin Birley

    Meeting outside the Essoldo cinema on Sunday mornings with Ericsson Wheelers With Ray, Alan Picket,Rex Simpson, Brian Burton and a lot more for our weekly club ride,not forgetting Gordon later on( His younger Brother). Wonderful memories of our youth that we shared with Ray. Racing against him on the grass track at Ericsson Sports day.He always won. Being at his 21st Birthday party at his parents house in Stapleford enjoying the Jazz and his company and celebrating. We were proud of Ray in those days, he was our club member. But most of all we liked him for his modesty his friendship and his ability just to be one of us normal mortals. He inspired the club. National service split us all up,but my memories are still as young men enjoying the company of a wonderful person and a great modest athlete. Shaken to hear of his death. RIP. Colin Birley

  • Jilly Richardson

    I knew Booty from RR&A, and then afterwards, as my partner and I would pop in for a coffee at various times over the years with him and Shelagh. My memory of him was, therefore, of his later years. He was the inspiration for my motto ‘never use age as an excuse!’ – I was always amazed how, in retirement, he would just ‘pop out’ for what seemed to me like a ridiculously long cycle ride, or walk, or be going skiing in the Alps with Shelagh. I remember how amused he was that he got a discounted ski pass for being a ‘pensioner’!
    A lovely man.
    My heart goes out to Shelagh, his wife.
    Jilly Richardson

  • Jim Ogden

    As one of the few contemporaries remaining from his era, I feel justifiesd in adding a tribute to my friend Ray. He was a companion to treasure. ‘Best Al-Rounder’ could never apply more aptly to anyone. Hs enthusiasm covered old cars, vintage cars, jazz and much else, as well as every aspect of cycling,

    After wining the RTTC Championship 100 at York in 1955 by 19 minutes, Geoff Morris and I, who were in the winning Team, went with Ray on a touring holiday in Switzerland and Italy. In those days this meant a ferry crossing followed by a train journey to Basle. After the Italian Lakes and the Dolomite Highway, we got back to Basle in time – just! – to reach Theale on the eve of the Bath Road Club 100.Tommy Crowther and Henry Burton had brought our racing bikes and, next morning, Ray won the 100.

    The following year he was Champion again, this time by 11 minutes, and went on to achieve his ambition to be the first rider inside four hours for a 100 miles in the Bath Road Club event.

    Sir Hubert Opperman, holder of many RRA records and, by then, a Government Minister in Australia, sent Ray a telegram: “Booty – you beauty!”. He was. And, also he was truly unique: the holder of a record (first man to beat four hours) which can’t be beaten and which will stay on the books forever.

    Jim Ogden

  • merv collins

    I was suffering riding 25 long eaton paragon. in 1970s trying to make a comeback,I had stopped ray came past shouted have you got everything.Shows what a kind considerate man he was.Several local lads all praised him he was not only a local but a worthy national and international great athlete

  • Roland Hughes

    I knew Ray thru RR, a great character and would often see him riding around Allestree, always gave a cheery wave

  • Ed.Hubbard

    In 1959 I rode an early season 25 on Gunthorpe to get the rough off on a freezing cold morning wet through and blue, after finishing I was sitting in the cafe shaking, this tall figure walked towards me and massaged my legs back to life and walked away, I was an unknown junior he was the great Ray Booty. We last spoke for ten minutes or so out side Morrisons at Breadsall only a few weeks ago. Totally shaken and sad to hear of his death. RIP.

  • david danvers

    I knew Ray well after his cycling days, he worked for RR and is well remembered by all who knew him.

  • Gary Plank

    Sorry, roginoz, you’re wrong. The 1958 ‘Empire Games’ road race was on the Ogmore-by-Sea circuit nowhere near Caerphilly mountain. In the words of Max Boyce – ‘I was there’. The rain poured down throughout and Ray nearly didn’t get the win as the Aussies (surprise surprise) launched an appeal over an ‘illegal’ bike change. Fortunately, it was turned down. Is it true that Ray once stood in the Thames directing boat traffic on the day before the Bath Road 100? I’d love to think it was. I have an old transparency of Ray speaking to Fran Colden immediately after Colden took his 100 record on the Bath Road. Anyone want it?.

  • walter ferguson

    I remember Ray . It was 1957 at the” Tour Of The North” Northern Ireland. on the 1st day up to portrush he rode away and won the stage, That night we all stayed in the same hotel he was up on the stage singing and playing a saxophone what a great guy, next day he was at it again and won the 2 day race overall, he was riding for the army at this time. RIP RAY KEEP RIDING UP THERE.


    Rode in the same era (and area nottingham) as Ray,great rider,great clubman. R.I.P.

  • Peter Gordon

    Stan Brittain, Bradley, Jackson, Denson. I have always known of Booty’s exploits but I had no idea how competitive time trials were in those days nor who was in the field that he beat by 11 minutes. RIP

  • Les Leamon

    Back in the late 50’s I started in the Anfield 100 with Ray Booty one minute behind me. Very shortly down the road Ray passed me with a cheery “Come on, Les”. I was chuffed that he knew my name. What a sportsman and gentleman he was. God bless you ,Ray.

    Les Leamon

  • malcolm grieve

    cycling with ray and the clubmates was often dictated by where the Bartholomews half-inch map could take us, across fields and along canal paths. Sometimes when we were out, we’d approach an army barracks. We’d stop and Ray would sound off, loudly, about the two wasted years he’d spent on National Service. The squaddies on duty were bewildered by this attack. Then there was the taste of a decent bitter and modern jazz.. And a great sense of humour … I’m really pleased to have shared some miles with him.

    malcolm grieve


    A great character who I first met when we rode in The 1954 Tour of West Flanders He went on to become a Legend
    Happy Memories

  • Angus Paterson

    The ”BOOT”,one of my Heroes, R.I.P. my friend.

  • roginoz

    in 1958 my dad covered the Commonwealth race for his employer the daily Telegraph .it ended on Caerphilly Mountain where the t of Britain Welsh stage climbed last year and will this year . we lived over the mountain in Cardiff . I was 11 and had just started riding dads old 30 s Sun Wasp . He didnt or couldnt take me ,things were different then . I would have loved to have seen or even met The Boot !! RIP.

  • David Chadderton

    Ride well in Heaven Ray, where there is no wind or hills.I was a 12 year old sprog cyclist in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, when Ray broke 4 hours and followed his exploits in Cycling Weekly (and Mopeds). An inspiration to us mere riders.

  • geegee

    A man of my era. Rest in peace.

  • NeilW

    R I P —- The Boot.