Numerous media outlets have reported Kurt Caselli died last night while racing in the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000, but until recently the details have been unclear. Although all the specifics are still being pieced together, 30-year-old Caselli did pass away during a racing accident last night at approximately race mile 792.
Although the direct cause of the accident is still unknown, KTM did issue a statement this evening, saying that after the team recovered his bike it “discovered traces on the machine that indicate he had collided with a small animal, which apparently caused the crash.” Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports, commented in the release on what Caselli’s passing meant to the team: “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 off-road racing.”
There was wide speculation that a booby trap was the cause of the accident, potentially due to the fact that one was reported within a few miles of the crash location, but there has been no confirmation of this.
In fact, Kawasaki 4x rider took to his Instagram (taylor_robert33) to dispel any rumors about a booby trap causing the crash: “I want to make something very clear and stop the rumors. Kurt Caselli did not crash because of a man made booby trap, a spectator, or any other nonsense that people are saying about his accident. My teammate Ricky Brabec was the first person to Kurt which was in a very secluded area with no Spectators. Ivan Ramirez showed up shortly after Ricky. They decided Ricky would go get help while Ivan stayed with Kurt. Even though the news didn’t come out until the night time the accident happened while there was still daylight, and didn’t have anything to do with racing at night. This was merely a racing accident and had nothing to do with booby traps, spectators, or another vehicle so please stop spreading rumors.”
Caselli is a multi-time AMA National Hare & Hound Champion, mutli-time IDSE gold medalist and WORCS Champion. He has recently won the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina, only his second international rally after he earned two stage wins at the 2013 Dakar Rally.
SCORE International released a statement earlier today reportedly after SCORE International President Roger Norman visited with the Caselli family.
“Our desert racing family has lost a very special person in Kurt,” Norman said in the release. “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.”
The American Motoryclist Association also issued a press release today on the accident, noting Caselli’s recent shift with KTM to focus on international rally racing, which AMA notes expected to draw more American interest in the sport.
“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.”