Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The off-road racing circuit lost one of its biggest stars on Friday night as Kurt Caselli died from injuries sustained in a crash at the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000, according to KTM Racing on Facebook.
Through Chris Estrada of Motorsports Talk, the fatal crash occurred near the end of the 833-mile Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico. Caselli’s motorcycle is said to have hit an artificial trap 796 miles after the start of the race, resulting in serious head injuries. He was airlifted to hospital where he was eventually pronounced dead.
UPDATE: Monday, November 18 at 11:25 a.m.ET
Caselli’s racing team, KTM, issued a statement acknowledging that Caselli crashed after hitting an animal, and not an artificial trap as was originally reported. Here is an excerpt from the statement:
The team, who have now recovered Caselli’s bike, have discovered traces on the machine that indicate he collided with an animal, apparently causing the crash.
— End of update —
According to Michel Ballaban From Jalopnik.com, locals are known to set traps on the course in an attempt to create entertainment, but things went horribly wrong when Caselli’s bike collided with the obstacle.
Caselli was an elite driver for KTM Racing, and he was a three-time Hare & Hounds champion and winner of the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally, according to Ballaban.
KTM Racing expressed great sadness when commenting on the loss of Caselli:
Extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Kurt Caselli as a result of an accident while driving in the Baja 1000. A huge loss for his family, his team and for our sport. Kurt was a great competitor and a great guy. More when we have all of our team’s details in the US statement.
American Motorcyclist Association president and CEO Rob Dingman also released a statement, according to Estrada:
Kurt Caselli was one of America’s best desert racing champions, and his untimely and untimely death is a blow to the hearts and minds of all of us who knew or knew him. Caselli was an amiable competitor, team leader and fan favorite. His love for motorcycles shone in everything he did, whether he was leading his racing comrades as Team USA captain for the International Six Days Enduro or signing autographs for a young fan.
On behalf of the WADA Board of Directors, our staff and WADA members around the world, we offer our condolences to the family of Kurt Caselli and thank them for sharing with us one of the best runners and greatest men in the sport.
In addition to KTM Racing and AMA, a number of people involved in off-road racing have spoken out after Caselli’s untimely death. Among them is off-road racer Ryan Arciero:
Dakar Series commentator Ben Constanduros also said good things about Caselli:
According to Dirt Bike Magazine, Caselli was a 30-year-old Californian who had just switched to rallying. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the rising stars in the sport.
While the dangers of off-road racing are obvious, it doesn’t facilitate a huge loss like this. Caselli was a great ambassador for the sport, and his contributions to motorcycling will not be forgotten anytime soon.
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