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Roy's Gauge Rees was 5 years old when he got on his first bike. It was a four-wheeler, his feet barely touched the ground and he crashed into a wall after 30 seconds of riding.
He got his first dirt bike a year later. He crashed that as well.
Times have changed for Rees, 16, who is in the midst of his first professional season, preparing for this weekend's MotoAmerica Superbike Championship at Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele.
"This past year has definitely been the most memorable of my career with this being my first year racing as a professional" Rees said. "I can remember the email I got when it was confirmed that I got my pro license. That was a pretty cool moment."
Motorcycle racing runs in the Rees family. Gauge's father, Kelly, raced from 2009 to 2011.
Kelly, who categorized his career as "short and sweet," quit racing so he could turn his attention to his son. He recently sold his motorcycle service business, Trackstar, to be a part of Gauge's racing team. Dad is in charge of bikes and equipment.
"It's nice having a family member with me the whole time, being able to help me out," Gauge said. "Sometimes races don't don't go very well, and it's nice to have family there to comfort you when things don't go great. We've managed to keep our relationships split up. Away from the track, he is my dad and then on the track he's more of a mentor."
Gauge races for Rickdiculous Racing, an elite training school where he's received coaching and mentorship from top racers, including world champion Scott Russell.
"They are pretty much the most elite motorcycle trainers in the nation," Gauge said. "You work with professionals and world champions the entire time you're there, and just being with them has made my learning curve shoot straight up."
Gauge is enrolled in Utah Connections Academy, an online school, and spends most of his time in the gym or training.
"It's super tough trying to balance getting everything I need to do with school done as well as training, riding and staying in contact with people," Gauge said. "You have to make sacrifices when you want to do well in this sports, but if that's what I have to do to chase my dream then that's what I have to do."
He usually wakes up around 6 a.m. and arrives at the gym with his father at 6:30. After an hour workout, his focus turns to schoolwork, after which he either trains again or relaxes.
"He puts it down," Kelly said. "That's all the kid does train."
Gauge is looking for his training to pay off this weekend at the MotorAmerica Superbike Championship, which runs Friday through Sunday.
"I've had a lot of years at that track, so I think I'm going to have a bit of a home-field advantage," Gauge said. "I have a lot of friends and family that are going to be out there, and I think I'm going to go into this round with more confidence than I do when the rounds aren't at home."
MotoAmerica Superbike Championship
When • Friday through Sunday
Where • Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele