Surely only once has there been an accident in a major race involving three cars of one make, in the same place, one car ending up on another. This unique calamity happened in the 1935 Ulster TT, to a team of three Singers.
By this time the Singer Nine Le Mans sportscar was well established in trials and racing. The previous year at Le Mans a Singer had been second in the Biennial Cup contest. For 1935 a works team of four was entered by Singer’s MD, WE Bullock. A new version of the popular Le Mans series had been introduced that summer, costing £525, with a strengthened two-seater racing body based on that of the 1934 Le Mans Singers, and twincarburettor 972cc engine giving 41bhp at 5500rpm. This was a true competition car, with twin-filler 15-gallon fuel tank, and top speed of 90mph. To promote it, the works entered a team of these green cars for the major 1935 races.
At Le Mans, second place in the Biennial Cup was again achieved, by Barnes and Langley, with 16th overall. Then Donald Barnes, Alf Langley and R Bicknell won the Brooklands Relay race. But in the TT came that remarkable accident. The team cars were driven by SCH Davis of The Autocar, Alf Langley, Donald Barnes and Norman Black. Class opposition came from three Fiat Balillas and three slower Adlers of the same size. It became a fine duel between the British and Italian small sportscars, until Langley’s Singer suddenly went into the bank at Bradshaw’s Brae, its steering having gone. He was unhurt, but Black’s Singer then crashed at almost the same place for the same reason. He too was uninjured. Davis now led the challenging Fiats and speeded up. But about an hour later his car also suddenly lost its steering.
“The steering wheel came free, and we shot off the curve,” said Sammy. “We hit the grass bank with a terrific thump. We went right up it. I grabbed the scuttle edge with one hand, the body side with the other, twisted my thighs to one side of the steering wheel, and let everything go loose. There was a terrific flash as the Singer rolled on top of Black’s wrecked car.” He fell out and rolled away, expecting fire as petrol was pouring out. He and his mechanic were virtually undamaged, apart from a cut on Sammy’s head. But three of the four Singers were out, all for the same reason, at almost the same place! Donald Barnes’s car was flagged off when the cause of this triple crash was identified.
It was found that a faulty bar of steel had been used to make the steering ball-joints of all four Singers. The original layout was a simplified one adopted from the Junior. To give more accurate control, this had been altered to the conventional system after Le Mans for the new production model, but the TT regulations did not permit it until it had been used for a sufficient number of cars.
It was a sad end to a very effective racing programme. No works Singers ran in the next Le Mans or TT races. However, before 1935 was out, a rebuilt 1935 IT car had been cobbled up, using another body and the new steering, and a second one was produced from two of the crashed cars, so that Davis and Stanley Barnes were able to drive them at Shelsley Walsh.