We bring you unfortunate news from the Baja California Peninsula, as we have gotten word that American Kurt Caselli has died while competing in the 2013 Baja 1000 off-road race.

Leading the race on his factory-supported KTM, early reports indicated that Caselli crashed after hitting a booby trap (an all too common feature of the Baja 1000) around the 796-mile mark, and later succumbed to injuries to his head.

However, a post to Instagram by FMF’s Donny Emler Jr. says that is not the case, and that Kurt’s crash was merely a racing incident, and did not occur near any spectators. Press statements from both KTM and the Baja 1000 organizers can be read here, and suggest that Caselli’s motorcycle came in contact with an animal, which likely caused his crash.

Though he was part of KTM’s second-place finishing team in last year’s Baja 1000, the thirty-year-old Caselli was a new edition to the KTM Factory Rally team, a position he earned after impressing the Austrian manufacturer during his stint at this year’s Dakar Rally as Marc Coma’s replacement.

Announced as a permanent member of KTM’s rally efforts, after Cyril Despres moved to Yamaha Racing, Caselli’s already impressive enduro career was set to gain even more momentum in rally racing.

Caselli was a multiple-time winner of the AMA National Hare and Hound Champion, a WORCS Champion, as well as s ISDE gold medalist before moving into rally racing. In the 2013 Dakar Rally he stunned the field with two impressive stage wins in his rookie debut, and just last month he finished 7th in the season-opener at the Morroco Rally.

Well-regarded for his riding ability and also for his warm personality, his absence will be felt deeply in the racing community. Asphalt & Rubber‘s deepest condolences go to his friends and family.

Source: Cycle News; Photo: © 2013 Maragni M / KTM Images — All Rights Reserved

  • Quiet American

    Prayers for you and your loved ones, Kurt. This race needs to rest in peace. Booby traps by citizens are intolerable in civilized sporting venues.

  • Uh OH

    Who says Mexico is civilized? I saw we pull out of Baja and spend the money in the US.

  • Spmtasticus

    A 1000 mile offroad race like the 1000 can not happen anywhere in the US. Blaming an entire country for the actions of a few criminals is not only prejudicial but quite ignorant. It would be like blaming the entire US for the actions of a psychotic american who shoots up a children’s school. This is a horrific even and Kurt was a great guy and excellent racer but we must not make matters worse by extending our reactions beyond reality. What they need to do is have a helicopter fly ahead of the competitors looking for these traps in order to dissmantle them or mark them.

  • L2C

    A booby trap? That is fucked up! What a shame. :-(

  • dagoof

    Why do they booby trap a race course? What motive is there for such a stupid, hateful action?

  • Rorider

    This is insane. From what I’ve read this is considered normal in the Baja 1000. If i’m not mistaken, for a similar reason they moved the Paris Dakar race from Africa to South America.

  • Spectators “booby trap” the course usually to create jumps or obstacles, which provide more entertainment.

    The Paris-Dakar was moved because of political instability in the Dakar region.

  • Quiet American

    This has been a tradition in Mexico for decades. I have read driver’s accounts over the years of booby traps, meant to wreck cars, being a problem in the famous Pan Am/Carreras road races in the 1950’s. That series went away fairly quickly. I’ve also read of it and seen it covered as a problem in the truck races and the enduros. This is not just a few criminals and recent.

  • A post to Instagram by FMF’s Donny Emler Jr. says that a booby trap was not involved, and that Kurt’s crash was merely a racing incident, and did not occur near any spectators. I’ve updated the post to reflect this information. More as we get it.

  • Paul

    Kurt may God be with you.To all your Family,it is Gods way,he loves us all and within time God will lead you all back to happiness in your lives.God Blees you for being an exceptional Dirt Rider. Rest in Peace Gods Child!!It is time to ride on.

  • The team, who have now recovered Kurt’s bike discovered traces on the machine that indicate he had collided with some animal, which apparently caused the crash. – See more at: http://derestricted.com/#sthash.6jJfvXRo.dpuf

  • this is just insane…

  • Peter D

    What a loss. I became a fan watching him win a couple of stages of the Dakar last year as a substitute rider. Was really looking forward to cheering him on in this year’s Dakar.

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.