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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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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.