Troy resident Ian Osuna, 14, gets behind the wheel at Skip Barber Racing School’s Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Troy resident Ian Osuna, 14, gets behind the wheel at Skip Barber Racing School’s Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Photo provided by Alfonso Osuna

Troy resident has eyes set on ‘Road to IndyCar’ after completion of Formula 4 race training

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Troy Times | Published June 18, 2024

 Osuna completed the advanced Formula 4 Racing training May 14.

Osuna completed the advanced Formula 4 Racing training May 14.

Photo provided by Alfonso Osuna


TROY — You see it all the time with professional athletes and their habits as young children.

During a television broadcast of a big game, they’ll show baby pictures of the athletes playing their favorite sport at such a young age.

There’s some things that children just cling to and never let go of, and for soon-to-be Troy Athens High School freshman Ian Osuna, cars were always at the forefront.

“I remember when he was 2 years old he was always awake and advanced for his age,” Ada Cepeda, Osuna’s mother, said. “I remember he started walking at 8 months old, and at 2 years, he couldn’t communicate very much verbally, but he would know all the brands of the cars in the parking lot just by looking at them in the parking lot. That was the way he was playing. Even at school, we would use cars to get him focused on certain lessons. He’s always had that weird connection with cars.”

Osuna’s childhood habits were just a foreshadowing for something much larger — dreams of one day becoming a professional racer.

For the past year, Osuna has been a part of the Skip Barber Racing School’s Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The Skip Barber Racing School, founded in 1975, is a developmental program that aims to help young racers learn the competitive ropes of the sport. It has graduated numerous racers that went on to compete in Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar racing series. Skip Barber alumni include NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger, Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and IndyCar Series winner Marco Andretti.

Osuna completed the requirements of classroom sessions and hands-on experiences behind the wheel May 14 to earn his driving certificate from the school.

“I went to Skip Barber to get certified as an amateur or professional racing driver,” Osuna said. “Skip Barber is an organization that develops drivers and gives them certificates. Like in IndyCar right now, which is a very famous race series, there have been many drivers that have come out of that school. That school provides opportunities and chances (for racers) to prove themselves, and I was given that opportunity in November, and just recently in May. I went over to finish my license, and now I’m good.”

Osuna got his first start in a racing league at Kart2Kart, now Full Throttle Adrenaline Park, where he placed second and gained the attention of the Michigan Motorsports Fan Club Association, and he also took part in the Michigan Motorsports Racing Association quarter midget, racing for children ages 5-16 on an oval track in go-kart-like cars that the racers prepare themselves.

His experience in various leagues opened the door for NXG Youth Motorsports, a program for minority racers looking to take their driving skills to the next level.

“What they do is they have these modules for youth drivers of 11-14, and they teach them things about motorsports and life skills,” Osuna said. “When you complete all the modules, they have a race series. As soon as I could, I entered that race series and met the owner, which his name is Rod Reid. Through Rod Reid, I’ve been able to have all the opportunities that I’ve had today. He’s the one who suggested me to go to Skip Barber and gave me a scholarship and sponsorship to go to Skip Barber.”

Osuna is a two-time NXG Grand Prix champion (2022 and 2023), which takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each year, and said the experience of NXG has helped him grow as a person.

“Apart from all the driving stuff I’ve learned, I would say my social skills and self-discipline, such as controlling your anger and anger management, has improved so much, and my maturity has improved a lot through the program,” Osuna said. “I’m still decently young, I guess, but I feel like what that program brought to me was discipline, responsibility and maturity, and that translated over to school and other extracurricular things I’m doing now.”

Along with racing, Osuna recently earned his black belt in tang soo do from the World Class Institute of Martial Arts in Livonia and Madison Heights.

Osuna also plays soccer and runs track while being musically talented with guitar and saxophone. Even with different things pulling him in other directions, Osuna always finds time for his racing simulator to brush up on his skills off the track.

Cepeda and Osuna’s father, Alfonso Osuna, are constantly on the go, whether it’s Charlotte, Atlanta or Chicago for endurance races, or Indianapolis the past two years for NXG. Osuna’s parents have supported him every step of the way because of the impact they see racing has on him.

“As parents, watching him get that resilience and that focus and perseverance that he’s having into the sport, that’s what’s really been a driver for us to keep supporting that, even if it’s the driving and all of that,” Cepeda said.

Osuna said that with the help of potential sponsors, he hopes to compete soon in the USF 2000 and USF Juniors.

“Short-term, I’m focused on trying to get into USS 2000, which is a minor league to IndyCar,” Osuna said. “Long-term, IndyCar would be great. Right now, it’s USS 2000 and USS Juniors. That road to IndyCar is what I’m looking for.”