Kurt Caselli, the motorcycle racer who was tragically killed last night in an accident during the Baja 1000, was not killed by a booby-trap set along the course, according to competitor for Kawasaki Taylor Robert. Reports are still unclear, but this looks like one of the few from someone actually there.
Caselli was originally reported by a number of sources, including the KTM Bicycle team, to have been killed by an obstacle in the course, commonly set up by locals to encourage high-flying jumps or just some tricky driving. While the bicycle team obviously isn't the official team of the Baja 1000 entry, it was as close as KTM got to an official statement. As of this writing, KTM still hasn't said anything, though Score International, the organizer of the race, acknowledged Caselli's death in an official statement with no mention of cause.
As with any accident, early reports can be inaccurate, and the original post about Caselli's death has been updated continuously to reflect that.
Robert's full statement is below:
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 fist 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.
While the cause of his death may not matter much in the long run, Caselli's life did matter. He leaves behind a family, a fiance, a team, and an incredible career. I'm sure he will be sorely missed by all that knew him.
Photo via Facebook
UPDATE: KTM, Caselli's racing team, has finally come out with a statement, explaining that the crash was caused by a collision with a small animal. The full statement is below:
KTM reports with great sadness that American KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli died as the result of injuries sustained in a crash while competing in the SCORE/Baja 1000 this weekend.
Kurt, part of the Factory FMF/Bonanza Plumbing/KTM team competing in this desert race, was in a leading position when he suffered a crash that resulted in severe head trauma. He died of his injuries in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
The team, who have now recovered Kurt's bike discovered traces on the machine that indicate he had collided with some small animal, which apparently caused the crash.
Kurt, 30, was an accomplished American offroad and desert rider but he had also made a successful transition to international rallies for the KTM Factory Team. He was admired and respected in racing circles for his skill, natural talent and exemplary sportsmanship far beyond the borders of his home country. While Kurt was one of the most popular figures on the KTM team, he was also an unmatched role model for young riders and fans.
Passionate about his sport, he had multiple consecutive championships in WORCS and National Hare and Hound racing and had been the lead rider for the USA International Six Days Enduro team for the past ten years. In January 2013, Kurt was drafted into the official KTM Rally team to ride in the Dakar Rally, replacing his friend and factory teammate Marc Coma, who was injured. Kurt’s debut ride in the 2013 Dakar Rally was impressive. He was subsequently given a permanent spot on the KTM Rally team and was preparing to contest the Dakar 2014 and the FIM World Cross Country Rallies Championship in the coming season.
Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports: “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 offroad racing.”
Jon-Erik Burleson, President of KTM North America: ”We at KTM can't put into context the loss everyone in the motorcycling community is experiencing. 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.”
Antti Kallonen, Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager: “The loss of Kurt is immense to the sport, our team and to our family. 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”.
Kurt Caselli will be deeply missed by the entire KTM family, his teammates, his fellow competitors and by his fans all over the world. At this time of acute sadness, the KTM management and the entire KTM international family extend their heartfelt condolences to the Caselli family.
H/t to c_beyer2!