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Godspeed Kurt Caselli, You will be missed
It is very hard for me to write this morning. I wanted to put it off. But as a writer, it is often a cathartic exercise for me too. I find a sense of peace once I can get the words out of my head and onto paper. So I wrote this as much for myself as for you the reader – Chilly
I went to bed last night listening to the rain. It seemed odd because I didn’t know it was coming. But it seemed strangely appropriate. I had already heard the news that we lost a great friend and racer, Kurt Caselli. It was too early for any of the news to be public. But I had enough confirmation to know that it was so. I had turned everything off, I couldn’t bear to hear or see any more for the night.
This morning I see the outpouring of emotion from all of those whose lives he touched. Kurt had a way of making everything around him better. It never seemed that he tried; it was just his natural way. I was always surprised how at times he would ride and work with other racers who were his competition from other teams. He always seemed to view the competition, the rivalry, as something that was good for the way that it raised everyone up. He only had to rely on his own skill to win. The racing was for the bike, once off of it he enjoyed the comradeship of his fellow racers.
I first remember racing against Kurt in 1998. I had just become an expert in District 37. As a slow expert on a 250, I often had to battle against the annoyingly fast 80cc riders. Most I could pass over the course of the race. But Kurt was already so far along in his burgeoning talent that I seldom caught him. As he became a professional I had the opportunity to watch him grow and develop. He was always a friend to everyone it seemed, always just acting like a fellow racer.
I spent a number of trips to the ISDE alongside Kurt, both as a racer and as a team helper. Kurt became one of the superstars of the event. Each year he organized Team USA with the best riders available, again mostly his competitors at home. He was always looking to make the team effort the best it could be.
He battled Johnny Aubert in Chile for the Six Days overall in 2007, coming up just short of the scratch win. In Greece he had a shot at the overall, but he and Cristobal Guererro were injured on the same day, putting both front runners out. Perhaps the highlight was watching Kurt and Joel Smets battle in the final moto in New Zealand. Johnny Aubert had just come to enduro from GP motocross, Kurt and Joel both lapped him that day. He and Ricky Dietrich led the Junior Team to the win that year in 2006.
That which seems rare in the world around us, is in so many ways the norm for our world of off road racers. The friendly, easy going manner of so many of our dirt bike heroes makes everyone around them feel special. Like the rest of us, Kurt was doing what he loved and I am sure would not have had it any other way. We all look at those same dangers every time we go out.
It has been a few years now since we lost another friend, Elmer Symons, at Dakar. I recall the conversation that Paul Krause and I had afterwards. Elmer was always one to show such a zest for life. His only goal was to ride Dakar. Paul commented that he figured that even if Elmer had known the outcome, he would have still followed the same path. He was so driven that he simply could not have done anything else.
Kurt was following his passion. It is what makes each of us alive. So in that way I cannot feel sad for him, only for those he leaves behind. His memorial will be to live in the hearts of those he touched. I believe it is all any of us could strive for. So let’s lift a glass for him when we can and remember him with the same smile that he showed us.