Callaghan Park grandstand taken in 1923.
Callaghan Park grandstand taken in 1923. Contributed

Monoplane crashes in rare race

LOOKING back through Callaghan Park's racing history in Rockhampton, it is safe to say it wasn't always about the horses.

Many weird and wonderful stories fill the rich racing history of the beef capital, with myriad tales collected throughout the years.

Like the entertaining account of the race between a monoplane and a car at Callaghan Park in 1912, June 4.

The spectacle of between 6000 and 7000 who paid to see it, with almost the same number watching in awe from the fence line, made a mark in the track's history and for the town.

The principal attraction at the Carnival races at Callaghan Park that day was provided by visiting American airman Mr A B Stone and his flying machine, a Bleriot monoplane.

A clear blue sky greeted the early crowd of spectators who arrived at the course to see the race.

The race was over 15 miles and the Bleriot monoplane and the car driven by S Taylor were parked on the course proper in front of the Grandstand.

The race commenced after a few last-minute adjustments to the plane, with the plane's big two-bladed propeller in front whirling at tremendous speed, then taking off down the straight and lifting off to the cheers of everyone.

On the fourth lap the plane, with Stone aboard, had lapped the car, but flying along the back straight during the fifth lap, the plane began to slowly lose altitude and veered off the course and crash-landed on the nearby cricket ground. Crowds rushed to the crash site and were relieved to see Mr Stone emerge uninjured from the wreckage.

Another anecdote is the dead-heat between horses Bay Hart and Sir Ross.

A record for Callaghan Park and probably for Australia, if not the world, was set on Saturday, September 9, 1922, when Bay Hart and Sir Ross finished in a dead-heat and in the two deciders also.

Three dead-heats in succession by the same horses is unique.

The 1888 Melbourne Cup Racing Exhibition at the Rockhampton Art Gallery will be host to an array of racing memorabilia until July 31.

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