American off-road racer Kurt Caselli has died from injuries sustained in a crash during the SCORE/Baja 1000 on Nov. 15. He was 30.

The KTM factory rider crashed while leading the desert race, suffering multiple severe injuries. Caselli was transported to hospital in Ensenada, Mexico, where he succumbed to the injuries.

The cause of the crash is not immediately clear, though KTM says initial evidence suggests Caselli had collided with an animal.


“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,” says Pit Bierer, head of KTM Motorsports. “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.”

Caselli was an accomplished off-road racer, finding success in WORCS and winning the 2011, 2012 and 2013 AMA National Hare and Hound competition and representing the U.S. in the International Six Days Enduro.

“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,” says Rob Dingman, AMA president and chief executive officer. “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.”

This past year has seen his profile grow, after Caselli was drafted to race in the 2013 Dakar Rally for KTM as a replacement for the injured Marc Coma. Caselli won two stage victories to finished 31st overall in the race, leading KTM to sign him as a permanent replacement for the departing five-time Dakar winner Cyril Despres.

“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,” says Jon-Erik Burleson, President of KTM North America. “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.”

[Source: KTM, AMA; photos by Maragni M. KTM Images]