(Top) Kurt’s friends and teammates led a procession of riders for a lap around Glen Helen in the fallen racer’s honor. (Center) FMF made posters, T-shirts and stickers in honor of Kurt Caselli. All the revenue collected went to the newly established Kurt Caselli Foundation to promote rider safety and help some high schoolers follow their dreams. (Below) The motorcycle community including KTM, FMF and Glen Helen Raceway came united to help celebrate the life of Kurt Caselli.
If anyone questioned the popularity of late off-road racing champion and factory KTM racer, Kurt Caselli, it’s clear by the sea of dirt bikes at his memorial ride day at Glen Helen last Friday that he will be missed. Thousands of fans, fellow riding enthusiasts, competitors, and his family visited the SoCal track to pay their final respects to the 30-year-old racer who lost his life in a crash while leading the Baja 1000 last month.
It was obvious by the huge turnout, including personalities all across the motorcycle trade, from pro racers to mechanics and business men and women that work within this tight knit industry, that Kurt touched a lot of lives. All day we heard folks exchanging their favorite Caselli stories, remembering the times they had spent riding, racing, and working alongside the three-time WORCS champ.
“Kurt was a real good buddy of mine. He is one of the coolest guys ever,” remembers Pat Houlihan, Sports Marketing Manager for Bell Helmets. “Every time he’s around you got something to laugh about… he had super obnoxiously white teeth so every time he smiled I’d give him a bunch of grief about having his teeth cleaned all the time [smiles].”
“He was one of the fairest guys I raced against,” recalls desert racing champ, Destry Abbott. “He would never clean you out. You never had to worry about him cheating. To me, I’ve always tried to be that guy, too. That is why I really respected him. I knew that if he beat me, he beat me fair and square… And he beat me plenty of times [laughs]. If I finished second to him I was happy. It’s a big loss for our racing community. He was one of the best guys on and off the bike.”
In a show of support, his long-time sponsors KTM and FMF made posters, T-shirts, and stickers with all the funds raised going directly to the newly established Kurt Caselli Foundation. The establishment will help fund technology for increased rider safety during motorcycle off-road races as well as awarding scholarship money to high school students to help them follow their dreams. Other organizations including Renthal, and pro athletes James Stewart and golfer Rickie Fowler pitched in offering some of their personal gear in a silent auction.
“My brother Kurt had an amazing job doing what he loved,” said his sister Carolyn, who works as an English teacher at a SoCal high school. “He inspired thousands of young riders to follow their dreams. I believe, and I know Kurt would agree, that the beauty of living your dreams is not only in the courage to dream large, but also, and more importantly, in the learning, dedication, and hard work required for turning those dreams into reality. I am proud to create this scholarship encouraging the hard work it takes to live your dreams.”
The Caselli Foundation will be headed by Kurt’s fiancée, Sarah White. In front of thousands of riders, White held back tears to thank everyone for their support. After a prayer riders took to the track in processional format for a lap of honor led by Caselli’s Baja teammates.
A wall of memories. Kurt Caselli was only 30-years-old when he lost his life last month during the Baja 1000.
“Every single place that Kurt Caselli went to, he made an impact,” said Kendal Norman, who along with Caselli, Ivan Ramirez, and Mike Brown formed this year’s factory KTM Baja 1000 race team. “And those people are here today.”
“Kurt was the fiercest competitor I ever raced,” he adds. “The first time I raced Kurt I was on an 80 when I was 12 or 13. The only time I beat him is if he broke—because he didn’t crash. I spent my life hoping that one day I could beat Kurt. It only happened once or twice. And then to be his teammate for Baja… it’s just sad.”