Preteen driven by need for speed

Clintonville's Trey Osborne, 11, has a bright future on the racetrack

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As a storm brews behind him, Trey Osborne, 11, poses for a portrait with his racecars last Thursday, June 19, at the Columbus Motor Speedway. The Clintonville resident already is considering a career in racing.

They call him Turbo.

Trey Osborne has shown such single-minded devotion to one day forging a career as a racecar driver that it practically amazes his mother, Clintonville real-estate agent Donna Leigh-Osborne.

"I think he's been pretty determined with this from day one," she said. "All I can say is, I wish when I was 11 I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life."

Trey just finished fifth grade at Immaculate Conception School, but he's already a veteran of the Columbus Motor Speedway, having graduated there from experience behind the wheel of a go-kart his self-described "gearhead" father bought him when he was 6.

Trey, who has an older brother, Holden, is now racing in the two fastest levels of the Quarter Midget circuit, Light World and Formula Light AA, said his dad, Richard Osborne.

Recently, United States Auto Club officials brought a developmental car to the south Columbus track for Trey to try out as he seeks to make the tough choice: NASCAR or USAC? Trey took the vehicle out on the big track at Columbus Motor Speedway, and while he said he hit speeds of 60 to 65 mph, his father claims it was more like 50.

But that doesn't mean it was no fun.

"It just kept on getting faster and faster, the competition got harder and harder and it just got funner," Trey said of racecar driving.

When he turns 12, Trey would be eligible to drive either the four-cylinder Honda engine USAC vehicle that he took for a spin recently, or perhaps a Legends-level car more closely associated with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Osborne said.

The proud papa added that he's trying to make arrangements to take Trey to Charlotte, N.C., for a four-day driving school with the Legends vehicles, which also sport four cylinders.

The latter vehicles, Osborne said, are more complex because they have five-speed gearboxes, while the Midget and Quarter Midget vehicles require no shifting.

"It was a lot faster and it would accelerate a lot faster," Trey said of his USAC vehicle experience. "The pedals were more like you put your foot straight down on it, and the steering wheel wasn't as slanted; it was more flat. It was just bigger and faster.

"I liked it. It was awesome."

"I'm pretty cool with all of it," his mother offered. "He has the gear he needs to keep him safe. I'm confident that he knows how to drive and what he's doing out there.

"I'm not the gearhead my husband is. ... I just know that, long-term, I see Trey having some career in the racing industry."

"I think the future is wide open," Osborne added. "As Donna said, there are absolutely possibilities for him to be involved in the racing business or industry for the rest of his life. It is, however, very, very difficult to continue as a driver. Even at the lowest level, it's about money and who can get the sponsorships.

"Right now, we're in a learning mode and progressing and having fun and just listening and learning everywhere we go, because we've been traveling to a lot of other states."

This summer, he said, will be devoted to traveling and offering Trey a chance to figure out what aspect of the sport most interests him.

"I would like to do the Daytona 500," the 11-year-old said.