MD is sad to report that 30-year-old American off-road racing star Kurt Caselli (KTM) passed away as a result of injuries sustained during the later stages of the Baja 1000 race yesterday.
Caselli’s accomplishments as an off-road racing star are so numerous, we will let you read about them in the press releases that follow. We would highlight, however, the fact that Caselli was a rising star in international rally competition for KTM, having won two stages of the Dakar Rally earlier this year. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Caselli, who was very well liked and respected throughout the motorcycle racing community.
According to a bulletin from SCORE reprinted below, Caselli’s KTM team was leading the race when the accident occurred with roughly 90 miles to go in the 883 mile event.
We should also add that speculation on the Internet that Caselli’s accident related to a “booby trap” set by Mexican locals has been disputed by at least one report of an eyewitness account. The KTM press release indicates Caselli’s crashed motorcycle contained evidence of impact with an animal on the trail.
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KTM mourns the loss of Kurt Caselli
KTM reports with great sadness that American KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli died as the result of injuries sustained in a crash while competing in the SCORE/Baja 1000 this weekend.
Kurt, part of the Factory FMF/Bonanza Plumbing/KTM team competing in this desert race, was in a leading position when he suffered a crash that resulted in severe head trauma. He died of his injuries in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
The team, who have now recovered Kurt’s bike discovered traces on the machine that indicate he had collided with some animal, which apparently caused the crash.
Kurt, 30, was an accomplished American offroad and desert rider but he had also made a successful transition to international rallies for the KTM Factory Team. He was admired and respected in racing circles for his skill, natural talent and exemplary sportsmanship far beyond the borders of his home country. While Kurt was one of the most popular figures on the KTM team, he was also an unmatched role model for young riders and fans.
Passionate about his sport, he had multiple consecutive championships in WORCS and National Hare and Hound racing and had been the lead rider for the USA International Six Days Enduro team for the past ten years. In January 2013, Kurt was drafted into the official KTM Rally team to ride in the Dakar Rally, replacing his friend and factory teammate Marc Coma, who was injured. Kurt’s debut ride in the 2013 Dakar Rally was impressive. He was subsequently given a permanent spot on the KTM Rally team and was preparing to contest the Dakar 2014 and the FIM World Cross Country Rallies Championship in the coming season.
Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports: “Today we lost a KTM hero in the worst possible circumstances. We are shocked and saddened by this tragic news and our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Kurt’s family. Kurt was much more than a very talented rider; he was also an exceptional team player. He represented and lived by the values and a passion for racing that lies at the very core of KTM. Our sport has lost more than a great rider; we have also lost an excellent ambassador for offroad racing.”
Jon-Erik Burleson, President of KTM North America: ”We at KTM can’t put into context the loss everyone in the motorcycling community is experiencing. Beyond his racing successes and talent as a rider, Kurt was above all else a core member of our greater off-road family that simply can’t be replaced. Kurt inspired the KTM family to keep pushing the limits of racing. He was the driving force behind our renewed efforts in Baja, Hare & Hound and the International Six Days Enduro. His work ethic, attitude and graciousness will never be matched.”
Antti Kallonen, Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager: “The loss of Kurt is immense to the sport, our team and to our family. Kurt has been on KTM his entire professional career. Even in the early years he brought something special to the off-road environment by bringing a leadership role like no other. He had the uncanny ability to bring a team together for efforts big and small. Professional motorcycle racing is always considered an individual sport, but Kurt made it a team sport. Whenever there was an opportunity to lead, help, inspire, advise or coach Kurt went into it like he went into a race—completely prepared, completely confident and knowing he could win. Kurt was the most galvanizing force I’ve ever seen. Those who knew him were lucky. Those of us who got to work with him were blessed”.
Kurt Caselli will be deeply missed by the entire KTM family, his teammates, his fellow competitors and by his fans all over the world. At this time of acute sadness, the KTM management and the entire KTM international family extend their heartfelt condolences to the Caselli family.
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SCORE International confirms tragic racing accident claims life of American desert racing star Kurt Caselli
ENSENADA, Mexico—SCORE International, a desert racing sanctioning body based in Reno, Nev., has confirmed that American motorcycle star Kurt Caselli tragically lost his life Friday as a result of injuries sustained during a late-race accident at the SCORE Baja 1000 being held in Mexico’s Baja California.
One of the best-liked and respected personalities in American desert racing, Caselli, 30, of Palmdale, Calif., died of serious trauma incurred when he apparently lost control of his KTM motorcycle in a sandy, high-speed section at approximate race-mile 792 while his team was leading in the late stages of the 883.1-mile international desert race.
The accident occurred at 4:30 p.m. PT Friday.
“Our desert racing family has lost a very special person in Kurt,” commented SCORE President Roger Norman. “Kurt was a superb racer and this is a tragedy that affects us all. We extend our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Caselli family. Their loss is immeasurable and we grieve with them.”
A multi-time AMA National Hare & Hound Champion, WORCS Champion and many-time ISDE gold medalist, Caselli was a developing international rally racer as well. In June of this year he won the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina – in what was only his second international rally since making his debut in the Dakar Rally at the end of 2012. Caselli won two stages of the Dakar Rally this past January.
Caselli and his factory-backed KTM racing team won last year’s SCORE San Felipe 250 and finished second and third in the other two SCORE Baja races this season.
AMA statement regarding death of multi-time national champion Kurt Caselli
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association expresses deep regret for the death of multi-time AMA National Champion Kurt Caselli. The reigning champion of the AMA National Hare & Hound Championship Series succumbed to injuries suffered while competing in the Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico, on Nov. 15. Caselli was 30 years old.
“Kurt Caselli was one of American desert racing’s finest champions, and his early and untimely death is a major blow to the hearts and minds of all of us who knew him or knew of him,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “Caselli was a gracious competitor, a team leader and a fan favorite. His love for motorcycling showed through in everything he did, whether he was leading his fellow racers as the U.S. team captain for the International Six Days Enduro or signing autographs for a young fan. On behalf of the AMA Board of Directors, our staff and AMA members everywhere, we offer our condolences to the family of Kurt Caselli and thank them for sharing with us one of the sport’s finest racers and greatest men.”
Caselli’s accomplishments included the 2011, 2012 and 2013 AMA National Hare & Hound National Championships, 2007 AMA Sportsman of the Year honors, numerous ISDE gold medals, several first-American ISDE finishes and an overall ISDE E3 class victory in 2007. Caselli also was a member of the World Championship winning 2006 ISDE U.S. Junior Team.
Caselli had recently announced a shift to international rally racing for KTM, a move that was expected to fuel additional American interest in the sport of rally racing and was chronicled in a cover story in the off-road version of the December issue of American Motorcyclist, the journal of the AMA.