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Kurt Caselli Dies During 2013 Baja 1000

Friday, November 15, 2013
American KTM factory off-road racer Kurt Caselli died during the 46th running of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road motorcycle race. He was 30 years old.

Hailing from Palmdale, California Caselli was competing on the 2x KTM factory squad, teamed with Kendall Norman, Mike Brown and Ivan Ramirez. Caselli was nearing the finish of the 833-mile contest when he crashed at approximately 4:55 pm PST.

The KTM team was leading the Baja 1000 race, when Caselli went down. The live feed from SCORE Racing indicated the incident occurred at the 796-mile marker, with a helicopter being sent to the scene. A SCORE bulletin announcing the death states that Caselli "died of serious trauma incurred when he apparently lost control of his KTM motorcycle in a sandy, high-speed section."

“Our desert racing family has lost a very special person in Kurt,” said SCORE President Roger Norman in the press statement. “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.”

Unconfirmed reports on Twitter initially indicated the accident was due to a booby trap set-up by locals in an effort to disable competitors. After KTM recovered Caselli's bike, however, the team found indications of a collision with an animal, "which apparently caused the crash."

A decorated champion, Caselli was a pillar in the motorcycle racing world having won the WORCS championship three times in ’07, ’10 and ’11 and most recently claimed the 2013 AMA Hare & Hound Championship. Caselli also competed for Team USA at the ISDE, including a silver medal in 2013.

In recent years, Caselli had turned his attentions to the Baja desert races and international rally races. The Californian competed with the Factory KTM squad with plans to contest the 2014 Dakar Rally. 

“The loss of Kurt is immense to the sport, our team and to our family," said Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen. "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."

"We at KTM can't put into context the loss everyone in the motorcycling community is experiencing," said Jon-Erik Burleson, President of KTM North America. "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.”

“Today we lost a KTM hero in the worst possible circumstances," said Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports: "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.”


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Pancho Vanilla   December 5, 2014 02:33 PM
It has been a little over one year now since Kurt Caselli's life was cut far too short during the final stages of the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000. In fact, today (Friday, December 5, 2014) the Kurt Caselli Foundation is hosting the 2nd Annual "Kurt Caselli Memorial Ride" out at Glen Helen Raceway. Many still want to believe a majority of what Adam Waheed's version states, and for sure, it set a precedent, or the "standard" that almost everyone else hung close to, however... Setting precedents by not cleaning up and clarifying this account dated November 15, 2013 was so premature that it enabled the promoter to get away with the equivalent of "negligent homicide", for even Mexican authorities still have some questions: WHO at or with "KTM" can verify any animal hairs were found on the 2x machine; for the actual man who was first to find Kurt Caselli, found him at Race Mile 792 - not 795 - and Kurt had taken off his helmet, laid down on his back and was STILL ALIVE 90 minutes after he had STOPPED. WHERE is the Promoter's "Formal Investigation and Report"? When you have the death of a racer, spectator or official, you send someone out to investigate! SCORE International never even spoke with Ken Koserik, the man who went out from the "Baja Pits" group, even when SCORE Officials were across the highway and knew nothing about BOTH motorcycles - that's right folks, BOTH LEAD BIKES [KTM #2x and Honda #1x] had STOPPED at the SAME TIME and only four miles apart! WHY did SCORE not send any one and any time to look for Caselli? This garbage about "sending" a helicopter is inaccurate; what SCORE was doing was filming the Trophy Truck race 90 miles across the peninsula. According to Kim Carpenter who was inside "SCORE Operations Command Center" in Ensenada, at the tracking monitor and told me when interviewed on December 1, 2013: "We were waiting for the KTM Helicopter to give us a status on Kurt." Well, that's not how it was EVER done BEFORE Roger Norman purchased SCORE International in December 2012! "SCORE Helicopters" have been in use for search, rescue and course safety - NEVER for self/business promotion!!! There are more questions... WHAT WAS "EDITED OUT" AND WHY DID JCR/HONDA ABRUPTLY QUIT BAJA RACING? Though I imagine few - if any - will ever read this, in the unlikely event perhaps a fan or loved one stumbles upon this "rant", perhaps you know a couple of months after Adam wrote this article, JCR/HONDA made a decision and acted upon it promptly. However in doing so, they also have some moderate explaining to do: The easy question for which any tear-jerking excuse will do is this one: "WHERE is the YouTube video produced and published on behalf of JCR/Honda - you know, the 'Seven Seas Productions' 7 - 10 minute features Johnny Campbell always paid that company to film, create and publish?" I mean come on now, let's be honest: There exist two JCR/Honda special videos for the two wins in 2013 - the San Felipe 250 in March; the Baja 500 in June - so when will we get to see the production of JCR/Honda's final triumph ever in Mexico? 2012; 2011.... On and on it goes; special videos show up but no one from JCR will tell us why they did not produce and publish one for this final victory. SCORE redacted (edited out) and amazing 22 minutes of "Live Feed" of the "Weatherman Emergency Radio Relay"; the rebroadcast goes silent wen "SCORE Ops" (Kim Carpenter) and "Weatherman" both are unable to reach "Honda Helicopter" for neither had Johnny Campbell's radio frequency! Sad, for Johnny was changing a front wheel as Caselli was just down the race course four miles ahead of them... Unless in those 22 minutes of silence, someone maybe.... Well, I won't speculate. These are FACTS! When anyone dies - especially in a high profile event like the Baja 1000 - set aside the high profile man that Caselli was and victim to some accident; record the matter by investigation. Adam's article is fun to read, but that was the problem! We read it; it sounds good, but hold on folks!!!! Q: "WHO, WHERE and WHEN did the 'boobytrap' story surface?" A: Jalopnik Blog Site who advertise "Where You Own the Story"; and this blogger out of the United Kingdom posted at 9:16 a.m. on November 16th FROM the U.K. so it was NINE HOURS AHEAD OF "U.S." or still just after midnight and only hours after Kurt's body had been removed from the scene, and he admitted he merely speculated there was a bobbytap involved and where would a "Brit" who has NEVER stepped in to Baja get such information? He wrote this: "I was sitting at my coffee table and read the SCORE International website and found their "Pre-Race Briefing" that one line Paragraph 3 warns that boobytraps have been set, but...." The man apologized profusely, but Adam? Shame on you for running it AS IT CAME OUT for this article is dated 11/15/13! Q: "But surely then, Kurt MUST ave struck an animal! KTM said so..." A: Who said there were "animal hairs" on the bike? I am not satisfied with KTM's version... No one on any law enforcement, safety and rescue or legal team be satisfied with Sklar Howes' "Tweet" from Mexico; inside a van that [allegedly] had the bike, with only brief mention of animal hairs. Are you kidding me? KTM packed up the "2x' and flew it back to Austria? Sklar did not snap a photo "just in case" some authority or agency wanted to take a look at the bike? What about foul play? Forget the "boobytrap"; Google up "Steven Martz shooting Baja 2008" and you will learn some really chilling news! LOOKING AT THE "BIG PICTURE" NOW... Kurt Caselli, we believe, fell from his bike, but what caused the fall and where it happened - Koserik was troubled as no one from SCORE called or requested an investigative interview which is standard operating procedure for any professional organization - we can learn how to prevent future losses by learning what really happened when losses occur. But Ken Koserik finally opened up to a few people; he left a timeline of events to the best of his recollection; he has finished more Baja 1000 riding on a motorcycle "solo" than anyone else in racing history, and yet he kept quiet because he was there and did not buy the media stories coming out - like THIS ONE that Adam published within hours of the event. And yet I hope a fine college student doing some research is reading this, for WE on the Committee have seen some real "nut jobs" trying to divert us from the process - Colton Udall was the latest to put his foot in his mouth, but at least he did provide a photo... Of THE alleged wheel... That stopped him.... For 22 minutes.... As the Honda Helicopter landed to assist.... While Colton's "hero" laid on his back... Just up the race course.... Dying.... Because Roger Norman ordered Kim Carpenter to wait... So his SCORE Helicopters could complete their mission... You know who I am upset with? Me... I communicated concerns about SCORE to Bonanza Plumbing and spoke also directly with Johnny Campbell in September 2013 - two months before the race - Antti from KTM (Austria) did not want or need anyone's help; Kurt was in charge, but I was furious when I found out SCORE never sent anyone! I am also upset with Kurt, for we found the two-way radio that was built for him back in 2003 when he came on board with us at KTM. It is being auctioned off right now at Glen Helen.... We would have hear anything and everything from the Chase Vans; the helicopter would have heard from him too, so where and who had the radio for his "last ride"? Between the sloppy edits (redactions) to the critical communications between SCORE; ESPN's Alyssa Roenigk's pointing out in her brilliant article "Caseeli's Last Ride" precisely where THE ONLY DECISION MAKER was standing when BOTH lead bikes STOPPED doing so, he rode a mile and a half and then decided to stop...
Lee   November 20, 2013 11:50 AM
Fortunate in life and fortunate in death - living life doing what he loved and doing it well - dying doing what he loved and doing it well. To those of us living our lives in cubicles, hating our jobs, getting fat because of depression and sedentary lifestyle, dying old and miserable from heart attack and stroke, we can really and truly admire Kurt.
Motoboy   November 19, 2013 06:53 PM
I am truly saddened by this news. Kurt was not only a Winner on a KTM, he was a Winner in Life! No matter what he did he did it with a positive, professional approach. My two sons, who are three years younger than Kurt and have raced Moto-X and Desert since they were 5 years old admired and respected Kurt, not only for what he did on the bike but how he treated his fans and the other riders. He was a True Gentleman of the sport! Funny that DH was mentioned in some of the other comments, because he was also a true Winner and Gentleman of the sport. My sons had DH stickers on their helmets When they were younger that Danny had given them at a local race in Northern Nevada. When they outgrew them I was going to sell the helmets with their bikes. NO WAY! They wanted to keep those helmets because Danny had given them those stickers and by god they were keeping them. This is the kind of positive impression I believe Danny and Kurt left upon all who they touched. My family is giving the Baja win to you Kurt! Godspeed to you and hopefully when I get there you and Danny will take a ride with this old broken down motocross and desert racer! Motoboy
debijo   November 16, 2013 11:13 PM
this is tragic, to you who made the bias comment about the locals doing something wrong, maybe you could read the article again. It is natural to look for someone to blame when a person looses their life, but read the article again please. I pray for the family and friends and all of the riders, this is a tragic loss for everyone. Please be careful!
catfish1978   November 16, 2013 01:46 PM
if the locals want to do this crap stop the race and take it elsewhere where it will be appreciated what a joke im sure there is plenty of desert in socal where they can run this
philthy_utah   November 16, 2013 11:21 AM
What a loss... a very talented kid. Watching last year's Dakar I was amazed to see him pull off stage wins on his first attempt at the rally. Truly bummed to see this happen. RIP
jogoeswfo   November 16, 2013 10:37 AM
I was seriously injured (severe brain concussion, two broken arms three broken ribs and on the critical list and in intensive care for 7 days) while riding the Tecate 500 enduro years ago at the hands of the locals wanting to see how exciting it would be to see someone going over the bars at 85 mph. Since that time I have I ridden thousands and thousands of miles in Baja and when ever I see a group of people standing around up the road .... It is time to hit the brakes !! God Speed Kurt. I know it will be only a matter of time before KTM finally spanking HONDA ass since KAWASAKI pulling out of Mexico due to Danny Hammel being killed in the late 90's. You will be missed and my prays goes out to you and your family.
sandman   November 16, 2013 08:55 AM
THIS IS SO SAD - GOD SPEED This is so sad --- I have always wanted to race / attend the Baja 1000. I thought this kind of low like criminal activity was history - so sad to say it is not.
virgilbg   November 16, 2013 06:20 AM
Thoughts and prayers for his family and friends.
AnthonyD   November 16, 2013 06:07 AM
Renohamel   November 16, 2013 12:18 AM
This is the most tragic thing to happen in the off-road community . Kurt will be missed by everyone who knew him or of him. He was the most talented rider of this era. God bless he and his family. We will miss you. Mike Hamel Reno, Nv.