Times’ columnist published in Michigan History magazine
ALMONT — When he was a little boy, furiously pedaling the wheels of his tricycle down Teeds Street, Rick Liblong would pretend he was race car driver Skeeter Ross.
The boy’s idol was a regular at the Motor City Speedway, which was built at the corner of Eight Mile and Schoenherr Roads in Warren Twp. in 1932.
Rick became acquainted with the track—which billed itself as “America’s Fastest Track”—when his dad Nick took him to a race back in 1954.
Young Rick was hooked. The father-son team visited the track often—and watched the races on their black and white tv—until the raceway burned down and ceased operations in 1959.
So when grown-up Rick connected with his childhood hero by chance in 2010, he was amazed to learn that his idol’s name wasn’t “Skeeter Ross.” He was a truck driver named Vitold S. Rosinski who lived on Detroit’s east side.
Rick wrote all about his obsession and discovery in his ‘All the Liblong Day’ column published in the Times on February 19, 2014. Headlined ‘Skeeter’s Motto: Go fast and turn left,” Rick detailed the history of “America’s Fastest Track,” and his and his dad’s connection to the Motor City Speedway and all things cars.
Today, the former Tri-City Times columnist’s story is being shared again in the May/June issue of Michigan History magazine in its ‘Remember the time’ feature.
This is the third time a Liblong story has appeared in ‘Remember the time,’ the first was a piece called ‘A hidden gem in the Thumb.’ Published in the November/December 2009 issue, the story featured Rick’s hometown of Almont, which took center stage.
Michigan History picked up another Liblong remembrance called ‘My encounters with political greats,’ where Rick detailed his memories of presidents and governors—he was, after all, a former press secretary to a U.S. Senator and a Washington, D.C. consultant.
And it looks like Rick’s not done sharing his knowledge and memories with Michigan History readers. The editors have selected two more of Rick’s stories for the ‘Remember the time’ feature. Future issues will contain Rick’s story about the 1953 tornado in Flint, and a story about old Van Dyke Road. Michigan History has also selected a feature story Rick wrote all about the life and times of Capac native Preston Tucker.
“All of these stories started off as columns from the Tri-City Times, and then adapted for publication in the magazine,” Rick says. “It’s been really nice delving into these stories, especially into the Motor City Speedway.”
Through his research on the race track, Rick located Al Blixt, Jr. of Ann Arbor. Blixt’s dad (and namesake) was the official photographer for the Motor City Speedway. Al Jr. had all of his dad’s files, which he graciously shared with Rick.
Rick also connected with Vitold “Skeeter Ross” Rosinski’s family, who shared memories and photos for the story. Vitold died in August of 2015 at the age of 86.
“It was nice to get to know the family, it was amazing to think about all those years ago as a little boy when I was a big fan,” Rick says. “I thought Skeeter Ross was such a cool name…I had no idea back then that it was not his real name!”
Though he’s no longer writing regular ‘All the Liblong Day’ columns, Rick continues to put his pen to paper—or more appropriately fingers to the keyboard. While he’s not working on anything specific at the moment, he’s always on the alert for a good story to share.
He is the author of the book Answering the Call to Duty: Saving Custer, Heroism at Gettysburg, POWs and other stories of Michigan’s Small Town Soldiers in the Civil War.
A member of the Almont High School Class of 1966, Rick graduated from Michigan State University in 1970. He was a communications manager at the Dow Chemical Company, a press secretary to a U.S. Senator and a Washington, D.C. consultant.
Rick now lives in Virginia with his wife, Sue, and cat, Rico.