Tom Sulman Biography by Barry Lake, with contributions by Roger Weston, a fire marshal who attended Sulman's accident, and David Carment, Tom Sulman's grandson. Tom Sulman was born in Sydney, Australia on 25 December 1899. He was the son of architect Sir John Sulman. Tom followed a career in automotive engineering and in 1923 he built the Sulman Simplex, a road-going cyclecar, which he raced at Sydney’s Victoria Park that year. During the world wide economic depression of the 1930s, Tom went to England looking for work. While there, in 1936, he built the Sulman Singer single-seat racing car, which he raced on speedway tracks. He has been reported as also having built a four-wheel drive “gnat” or speedway midget, with which he competed against the Skirrow four-wheel drive cars from 1938.
I found the above on a site carrying Tom Sulman's obituary. I would appreciate more information about his UK midget car racing career if it's available. In regard to the mention of the 'Gnat" it would appear that Sulman had some sort of involvement with Jean Reville in the mid-1930s. Here is the link for Tom Sulman but it doesn't give much detail on his midget car racing. www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=1564
Last Edit: May 16, 2010 17:58:54 GMT 1 by tobyhalter
Post by haflinger121 on May 16, 2010 21:16:39 GMT 1
Yes Toby, I came across that website you're talking about some while ago. I didn't previously know that Tommy either went back to Oz or that he ultimately died in a crash at Bathurst while still racing at a grand old age.
I can tell you one interesting thing about Tommy, in that he raced at Greenford in 1934. There is a J.F Sulman listed in the programme but it is almost certainly a misprint and should probably be T.F. Sulman. According to my poorly filled in programme car #8 (his programmed number) won a race, and in the Greenford article published in Motor Sport magazine of December 1992, it says that Sulman (no initial) won a 10-lap non-qualifiers race in a Sulman Special - probably the Singer referred to in the website piece.
Previously he'd raced at Crystal Palace on 31/3/34, again in the Sulman Special. I have to say that I think the website piece we've both seen is wrong about him driving a Gnat, or they are using it as a generic term for midget cars of that era, which I have seen before when it should really only apply to cars built or raced by Jean Reville.
I also have Tommy Sulman listed to drive in a Lea Bridge programme of 1935 (a year later) but he must have had car trouble or something as nearly all his drives were taken by other people. However he appeared late in the event and won a race.
He also drove at the Hackney world championships of 4/8/36 and this may have been in a Gnat, as no car types are listed in that prog. He was however, listed as representing Scotland! Or maybe he really was Scottish originally, I just don't know.
I have no more programmes that mention him, and he didn't appear to race at Lea Bridge in '37 (for which we also have progs) so I'm guessing this was about the time he took himself back off to Oz.
I daresay other members will have further progs or info. from this era.
From my own research gleened from various sources I can agree with Tommys obituray. When he came to England he set himself up in the motor engineering bussiness. According to an article in Light car magazine 24/7/31 he converted a Morgan 3wheeler to 4 so that he could race on the dirt --remeber dirt track racing was booming, so I suppose Tommy thought why not cars. Later he built another car with a motor cycle twin engine in a vaugly Salmson chasis this he raced at the early Crystal Palace meetings and I presume Greenford. However one day a Singer agent came to Tommy and asked him to build a sprint and hillclimb special, this turned out to be the famous Singer Sulman Special. But the Singer agent went bust and Tommy was left with the car! Because of its short wheelbase the car was OK for the dirt, and Tommy raced it regularly in the UK and once in Holland in 36. Come 37 and this car was obsolete thanks to the Skirrows. So Tommy sety about building a 4wheel drive car. It was while racing this car that he crashed badly at Coventry ending his midget car career. A photo of the crash appeared in Motor magazine 7/9/37. This photo also appeared in other magzines of the time and was also styalised for a Belle Vue advert. He gave up the dirt and campained the Singer at various hill climbs. After the war (1946) Tommy retuned to OZ; the Singer Special followed the next year this time without its body work, apperently this avoidede import duty! Tommy raced the car finishing 5th in the 1947 Austalian GP. Tommy was to lose his life at Bathhurst 1970. The car still competes over in OZ and the current owners have tried desperatly for an invite to Goodwood; but you know what these road racing types are like!!! If anyone would like me to expand then contact me at my email address and I would be delighted to share what info, or otherwise, I have.