PHOTO OF THE WEEK
It’s going to be a new look for the TwoTwo Motorsports team in 2014. That’s the old sticker wrap that enveloped the transport rig. I’m pulling for Chad Reed in ’14. Photo: Dave Osterman.
RIDE IN PEACE, KURT CASELLI
By John Basher
Photo courtesy of KTM Images.
It’s hard for me to begin writing something that I never imagined that I would have to write. A nightmare that has come true. Kurt Caselli has left this earth. At least I can take comfort in knowing that his spirit lives on in the those that he touched. I’m one such fortunate individual.
Although I don’t remember the first time meeting Kurt, I can recall my initial impression of the SoCal desert rat. Mind you at that point Caselli was an established racer, successful in the WORCS series as well as the Hare & Hound championship. I didn’t know much about off-road racing, but I had watched him tear around the local motocross tracks. He was legit on the bike, but not as impressive as away from the saddle.
By now you’ve seen, read or heard the public outcry from his adoring fans, loved ones and fellow riders. Kurt Caselli was an incredible human being. He was not self-absorbed in the least bit nor a sycophant. Those in his position would have been narcissistic, thirsting for power and attention. Not Kurt. He gave just as much of his time for an interview as he did after a grueling race in the empty pits with a young fan. Caselli was the definition of class.
I’ll miss Kurt Caselli, but not because I’ll never see him twist the throttle again. To me that didn’t matter. What I’ll miss are the happenstance meetings with him around the Palmdale area?we were neighbors?and talking about everything and nothing. Who do you know that could make you feel instantly comfortably, even if you hadn’t seen them in months? That was Caselli.
I was fortunate enough to shoot photos and interview Kurt a number of times through the years. I always looked forward to our meetings, and I didn’t worry about whether he would stand me up or not give his all. He was an all-in type of person. He didn’t take any pity, and he expected none in return. That’s what I admire most about him. Regardless of the stakes or, at times, the silliness of it all, he had a beaming smile and forged ahead with the task.
Need proof? Last year we did a KTM 125SX versus KTM 150SX shootout, and I wanted to get a photo of two riders railing a turn together for the cover. This was before we hired Daryl Ecklund on full-time for the assistant editor position at MXA. I called Daryl up and threw out the idea. He was all for it. I proceeded to ask who he thought the second rider should be. After all, hitting a corner with another rider close on one’s heels takes the utmost trust. Without hesitation Ecklund said, “I know that Kurt has wanted to shoot photos with us. Maybe he could do it?” With Daryl and Kurt being best friends since around age five, I knew that they had spent a lot of time together and would go to the ends of the earth for one another. It was a brilliant idea to pair them up.
About a week later I met up with Kurt and Daryl at a secluded area outside of Palmdale in the middle of summer to get the shots. Kurt wore his team KTM Thor gear, along with Sidi boots (another sponsor) and a custom-painted MXA Bell helmet. I started the session by shooting Daryl and Kurt separately. The consummate competitors, Ecklund and Caselli took turns punishing the same turn in an effort to one-up the other. I can say with confidence that Daryl rarely gets out-ridden, but on that day Caselli had his number.
Once we got a few shots in the bank it was time to nail the cover photo. Kurt wisely chose the inside line, while Daryl’s job was to power around the outside and let Kurt sneak up next to him. They started off like tween crushes holding hands for the first time?awkward and a bit funny. That’s when I started hooting and hollering, directing them to get closer.
The next time around was magic. Both riders carried a lot of speed into the dust bowl and refused to shut off. It took trust, guts and a bit of stupidity to do that next to someone else at three feet away. Then it was two feet away. And then Kurt ran over Daryl’s Fox boot as the two collided. It was skill that kept them from going down in a heap, and it was all we could do not to collapse from laughing. Even writing this now I’m busting up. Ecklund was yelling at Caselli for running over his foot and Kurt was giving it right back by blaming Daryl for turning in on him. If you look closely at the last shot in the sequence you can see Daryl smiling from under his helmet.
For their brave efforts Kurt and Daryl were featured on the cover of the November 2012 issue. And though I could go on and on about the day, that one specific moment really stands out. It will for the rest of my life. I witnessed two best friends enjoying what they loved to do, and they were together for it.
Daryl called me on Friday night after he found out that Kurt had passed away. It was one of the worst calls I ever received. I couldn’t believe it. Kurt Caselli? That guy was like Superman. He triumphed over?well?everything. WORCS. Hare & Hound. Baja. Rally. He could do it all.
I’m sad that Caselli is gone. I’m also angry that people on internet message boards called MXA out for not posting news of Kurt’s death. We didn’t do that out of respect for his best friend, Daryl, who works at the magazine and was so close to Kurt that they were practically brothers. On Friday night the tragic news broke, along with misinformation. Caselli didn’t suffer the wrath of some booby trap. I didn’t want to leak out hearsay, because it does a disservice to the man that Kurt Caselli was. He died doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky.
The fact is that one of the more amazing human beings on this rock is no longer with us. We must pick up the broken pieces within ourselves and move forward. Eventually we will heal. The pain will subside. Yet no one who met Caselli will ever forget him. We should all aspire to be like Kurt. Ride in peace, my friend. #KC66
VIDEO OF #KC66: “CHOICES”
It will be tough to watch, but appreciate how nice Kurt was and remember his skills on a motorcycle.
GODSPEED RYAN LONGSTRETH
Ryan was an awesome guy, and he did a great job for Cycra Racing. He will be missed. Rest In Peace, Ryan.
Thomasville, N.C., November 19, 2013 ? It is with a heavy heart that the CV Family (CYCRA, CV4, and Xceldyne) announces the passing of Ryan Longstreth, on Saturday, November 16th after being involved in an accident. Ryan worked as the Brand Manager for CYCRA Racing for 18 years. He possessed a true passion for the sport of off-road racing and motocross, and truly loved the people in the industry. He touched many people over the years with his likeable personality and happy infectious smiles. Surviving are his loving wife of 20 years, Harmony J. Longstreth and his daughter, Morgan E. Longstreth. The Longstreths were a motorcycle family that traveled together over countless weekends to race tracks across the country. The family will be accepting condolences from 1:00-3:00 & 5:00-8:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at BOLIN-DIERKES Funeral Home, 1271 Blue Avenue, Zanesville.
The Harmony J. Longstreth and Morgan E. Longstreth Benefit Fund has been set up to help care for Ryan’s family, as he was the sole supporter, while his wife and daughter are both pursuing an education at Ohio State University. To make a contribution please contact Park National Bank 50N 3rd Street Newark, Ohio 43055 (Ph 740-349-8451). At a later date, details about a Memorial ride and auction to celebrate Ryan’s life will be announced.
MINI-VIEW: AUSTIN POLITELLI
Austin Politelli has been everywhere, at least a little bit. Germany for Supercross? Check. Canada to race the Nationals? Check. 250 West Supercross. You know it. The SoCal kid has experienced a lot in his budding professional career, and he hopes to experience something completely new for the 2014 season?being on a team for the 250 West Supercross series. I sat down and spoke with Politelli minutes after he hopped off our project KTM 300SX two-stroke for a photo shoot.
MXA: This year has been very good for you. A lot of positives. You finished fourth at the San Diego 250 West Supercross, and then went up to Canada and won the 250 title. Following that up you were given a one-race deal at the Monster Cup on the factory KTM team. Not too shabby.
Austin: Yeah, there were some ups as well as downs. As far as Canada is concerned, this was my second time racing up north. I went in 2011 and had a lot of fun, so I decided to race the Canadian Nationals again. I rode for Leading Edge Kawasaki and ended up winning the championship. It was an awesome experience!
You started off the Canadian Nationals in dominating fashion.
I won the first six motos, but then I did really bad at Gopher Dunes. It was just one of those off days. After that I contracted strep throat, which wasn’t fun at all, but I won more rounds after. At the last round I hurt my knee in practice and only raced the first moto, but I earned enough points to wrap up the title.
Last week Austin ripped around on our project KTM 300SX.
It sounds like you had to overcome numerous obstacles this summer. While talking to your dad on the phone he mentioned about how you put a hole in your leg. What was that all about?
At the first round in the second moto I came out of a corner and hit a square-edged bump. It kicked me sideways and I went off the track. I landed in a drainage ditch and my foot slipped off. My leg caught the footpeg between my knee brace and boot somehow. I cut my leg up really badly and had to get stitches. It was a freak accident.
What did you do between the Canadian Nationals?
I flew back home every week, because I wanted to do my training and riding in California. However, if I go back again next year I’ll stay up in Canada. It gets tough with the flights, because some of the rounds are really far away from where I live. The traveling takes it out of me, so I’d like to stay in Canada.
At the moment you’re open to a ride. What are you looking for?
I’d love to race West coast Supercross. I don’t have anything right now, bike included. I’ve been keeping up on my training, and I’m happy to help you guys test bikes, because that’s a lot of fun.
What if a deal doesn’t come together? Will you race on your own dime?
If that’s what it comes to. I’ve talked to Frenchie for the Canadian team, and maybe we can work something out. Otherwise I might do the German Supercross rounds in Munich and Dortmund. There are also some Arenacross races in Canada. We’ll see what comes up.
You’ve won a lot of races and placed well in Supercross. Is it disheartening in the sense that you haven’t been given solid footing on a team?
It is a little bit, but it shows me that I need to keep working hard to reach my goals. I was very fortunate to be given the one-race deal with the Red Bull KTM team for the Monster Cup, but things didn’t work out. I put too much pressure on myself and was super nervous!
Do people have something against you?
I don’t know if people think I’m a punk or what [laughter]. I stick to myself and do my training. Maybe that comes off wrong, but I’m a really nice guy. It sure would be nice to get an opportunity for Supercross. I feel like I’ve proven myself a little bit. There weren’t any privateers ahead of me at most rounds and I also beat some factory guys. I don’t want to come off cocky, but I’d hope that I’ve proven myself enough to get a chance.
Austin at the Monster Cup aboard a Red Bull KTM 350SXF. Nerves got the best of him and he didn’t qualify for the mains.
How did the Red Bull KTM ride come about?
I was at a round in Canada and my dad texted me saying that I needed to call Roger DeCoster. I was like, Whoa! So I did, and he wanted to work something out. I did a test with the KTM team. I was nervous, because before that I was on vacation in Washington for two weeks and had to jump right into Supercross. I guess KTM liked me, so we had a meeting and agreed to race Monster Cup.
How much time did you have on the KTM 350SXF before racing the Monster Cup?
I had about a month of time on the bike, which was very good. I only wish that things would have gone better at the race. Like I said, I was really nervous, and I’m thankful to Roger DeCoster and the Red Bull KTM team for giving me the opportunity.
Well I hope your phone rings and you get something lined up for the 250 West this upcoming season.
Thanks, John. I appreciate it.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: ALPINESTARS SUPERVICTORY BOOT
An oldie but a goodie
The Alpinestars Supervictory boot is an updated classic. It pays homage to Alpinestars’ illustrious history in MX boot dominance. The Supervictory is a modernized version of the Victory boot of the late 70s / early 80s; the boot that was worn by Roger DeCoster, Bob Hannah, Heikki Mikkola and countless other legends.
Four nylon cam adjustable buckles with a replaceable nylon strap and housing design.
Stamped steel shin plate.
Alpinestars exclusive rubber compound sole with replaceable foot peg insert.
Ergonomic ankle support with injected TPU ankle pads.
Stamped stainless steel sole guard.
Stamped steel shank.
Exclusive ankle brace protector.
Full-grain leather upper and lining.
Leather over leather front flex zone.
Replaceable anatomic footbed.
Internal TPU plate on the inner side of the boot is curved in an anatomic shape and covered with leather.
Retail price: $329.95
Available at: http://www.alpinestars.com/supervictory-boot/
ROBBY BELL’S SCORE BAJA 1000 RACE REPORT
By Robby Bell
Facing the challenges of Baja stresses the physical and emotional limits that the human body can endure unlike most other motorsport competitions today. In fact, referring to the Baja 1000 with the simplistic term of a competition doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the event is, what it means to those who have endured it’s rigors and what it demands of those hoping to pass its tests. It’s an adventure unlike any other that few people in this world will ever be able to grasp and it leaves a deep, lasting impact on those who have been through it forming bonds between participants that will last a lifetime.
To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to do the mystique and grandeur of the Baja 1000 justice in simple words. It’s a race in which the awe and beauty of the event can only be matched by the potential for tragedy and hardship. But that’s what the men and women who chose to face the trials are looking for: a challenge and adventure that will truly test them and give them a sense for their own limitations and what it feels like to push beyond them. It gives a sense of having lived life to it’s absolute fullest.
In these most heavy-hearted times, I’m also finding it tough to write about my own race; a simple competition seems like a trivial child’s game compared to the life-changing event that took place, but for those who want to feel closer to the race, or wish to have more of an understanding, I’ll give a bit of a recap?
Throughout all of my pre-running I was feeling uncharacteristically carefree about the entire event, I was really enjoying putting in a ton of miles practicing and wasn’t feeling any genuine nerves or pressure. It may sound odd to consider these feelings uncharacteristic, but in such a big event, with so many unknown possibilities and dangers laying concealed in the Baja desert, and the knowledge that so many talented riders were competing, which would demand a fast pace flirting with the edge of control and safety, the Baja 1000 usually hangs an opaque cloud of doubt and uncertainty, even if only a small one, somewhere deep inside the mind. It truly was a novelty to feel so positive and worry free before the race.
On race day my teammates David Pearson and Ricky Brabec would split up the first three hundred eighty-five miles, through the darkness, to El Crucero where I was scheduled to ride one hundred forty miles before handing the bike to Taylor Robert, then remounting and splitting up the final two hundred miles with Ricky. I knew the nighttime start would offer a different dynamic to the race, so it was great to hear that most people made it through the evening without incident. In terms of the race for the lead, we heard radio reports that the first three bikes were coming to El Crucero within minutes which was exactly what I had hoped for: a smooth evening run, keeping close and in the hunt, allowing for the race to be settled in the day.
The 1x Honda was the first bike through, followed a few minutes later by the 2x KTM. I watched both of them go by with a feeling of confidence; I knew the following section well, really enjoyed it and felt I had the potential to make up time on the leaders, all I needed was the bike. Unfortunately the clock kept ticking with no sign or sound of our bike. Minute after minute passed and some slight anxiety began to creep in. What happened? Was it a problem with the bike, or did something happen to David? It was utter agony as time relentlessly kept ticking on.
Finally after nearly forty minutes David came speeding into sight. We would later learn that a slight miscalculation of distance between pits left David’s tank empty just over a mile from the next gas stop. He said he pushed it for a while, which would have been a difficult task in the sandy conditions, before someone in a car was able to siphon gas out of their own tank to fill a little bit of Dave’s and get him going. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been for David, after he and Ricky had put in such a great ride and so many hours on the bike, only to run out of gas within a couple miles of getting off the bike.
This is where I feel I made my first mistake of the entire two weeks I’d been down there; leading up to the race, including during the morning of the race itself, I had told myself I was going to build into the pace of the race a little. I was going to have plenty of miles on the bike and I wasn’t going to win the race in the first few so I wanted to build into the event and get a feel for the flow of the bike and the course on race day. Unfortunately with the time that we’d lost, and the time I’d spent waiting and growing more frustrated, I began to let my emotions get the best of me. As I mounted the bike I wasted no time in pushing to the limits of what we consider a “safe” race speed in Baja.
Emotions aside, I felt fantastic on the bike. I was riding the course just how I had imagined, straightening out the two-track road where I could, sweeping the corners wide where it was required and looking far down the course in an effort to feel more in control. I honestly felt like I was flying.
And that’s when absolute disaster struck. About ten miles into my section I was cresting a fourth-gear rise and I hit something embedded in the ground real, REAL hard. It was either a hidden rock or a stump, but the impact was enough to break the rear hub and send me off course down the left side of the track in an uncontrolled swap. I was speeding through a mine field of rocks, bushes and small trees and when I hit a thicket of three stout bushes, I got positively ejected off of the bike and went flying through the air. I bounced off the earth a couple times and finally came to a stop in a field of small rocks where I struggled to get my breath. After a couple minutes of fuzziness the reality of what had just happened was beginning to sink in, and I was also coming to the conclusion that my Baja 1000 had just ended as I couldn’t lift my right arm more than a few inches into the air and my left ankle felt like it was quickly approaching the size of a large grapefruit. Luckily by this time the helicopter had landed and our medic began tending to me.
Steve Hengeveld, who was our banded back up rider in the helicopter and still recovering from an ankle injury of his own, realized that he was going to have to ride the rest of my section to keep us in the race and he began to suit up in his gear and get ready to go. Steve was definitely my hero for riding that bike over 100 miles, through the nasty silt of the “fish camp” loop, after I absolutely mangled it ruining the sub-frame, the pipe, the rear hub, the rear brake system and twisting up the front end real nice.
After a major pit to repair of the damage I managed to inflict upon the bike, David was forced to remount our steed and finish my sections for me since I was unable to continue. I owe a huge debt and thanks to my team, Monster Energy, THR Motorsports, Precision Concepts Kawasaki, and especially our mechanics in the pits, along with all of my teammates for working incredibly hard to fix the bike and keep us going in the race after my mistake. It’s amazing to think that we still managed a good finish with all that happened.
Of course, in light of the absolute tragedy that occurred later that afternoon, our finishing position seems rather trivial. It wasn’t until the early evening that we started hearing rumors about Kurt Caselli, and like most people, we didn’t want to believe the reports or even give them the time of day; it simply wasn’t possible. I honestly still don’t know how to feel about everything, it’s like a bad dream that I keep wishing to wake from but it keeps sucking me deeper down into it, proving more real. There are undoubtedly many people who knew Kurt better than I did and as much as it hurts me that he’s gone, I can’t imagine what those who were closer to him are going through right now.
It goes without saying that Kurt was an incredibly talented off-road racer, one of the best, but he was also an amazing human being who loved his friends and family, who had a smile that was infectious and who was the type of person that parents would encourage their kids to look up to and admire. The loss of Kurt has left so many, including myself, searching for answers and closure, closure that often times Baja unfortunately doesn’t offer. For me, a little comfort comes from knowing that Kurt lived his life on his terms, doing what he loved to do, which is more than most people can say. Kurt touched so many lives in our racing community, one of the tightest and closest communities I know of, and he will be truly missed by anyone who was lucky enough to meet him. Godspeed Kurt, I look forward to seeing you again when we learn what this life is really all about.
Thank you to all the Monster Energy, THR Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki team sponsors: Hoosier Precision Machining, FMF Exhaust, GPR Stabilizers, IMS Racing, BRP Triple Clamps, AME Grips, Kalgard Oils/Lubricants, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, AP Brakes, LAPC Pistons, Renthal Handlebars/Sprockets, Dunlop Tires, VP Racing Fuels, DT1 Air Filters, K&N Oil Filters, Hinson, Matrix Concepts, RK/Excel, Acerbis, Works Connection, Zip-Ty Racing, SealSavers, Baja Designs.
And to my personal sponsors: Fox Racing, Alamo Alarms, THR Motorsports, USWE Hydration Systems, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs and ATP Mechanix Supplements.
RIDE WITH ROBBY BELL THROUGH BAJA
COMPANY SPOTLIGHT: N-STYLE PERSPECTIVE
“N-Style Perspective” is a fully equipped Screen printing spot color and 4 color process facility with bigger than average formats. We can print on Glass, Styrene, heat materials and a wide range of vinyl’s and banner material, but not limited to just that. Also full digital printing capabilities as well for the Motocross arena and more.
“N-Style Perspective” also lends itself to printing private label work of many origins, materials, sub straights and also design aspect for logos’ ECT.
“N-Style Perspective” which N and Arrow logo which had been since the inception also has the newer N-Style Block logo that is now seen on many of the factory teams.
NEW PRODUCT: RIDE ENGINEERING RUBBER MOUNTED KTM TRIPLE CLAMPS
Ride Engineering’s KTM Triple Clamps have been used by KTM’s own Factory Off-Road Team and Canada’s Factory Motocross Team in 19 & 20.5mm offsets to improve handling. Now we offer those same great offsets with a new rubber-mounted top clamp that helps dampen vibration and reduce hand fatigue. The addition of the cone pockets makes the upper clamp more rigid which further improves steering response. These Clamps are available for 2013 & 14 models (2012 Dungey Edition) and come with the Polyurethane Cones. The One-Piece Bar Mount is sold separately (KX-BBM00-CA) and required for Motocross applications. Desert riders can purchase a BRP Sub Mount directly from Scott’s to install a Scott’s Steering Dampener onto our clamps-the new Top Clamp profile will not interfere with the post mount.
2013+ KTM Rubber Mounted Triple Clamp Set 20.5mm Offset-Orange
P.N.: KT-BTB44-GE msrp $529.90
2013+ KTM Rubber Mounted Triple Clamp Set 20.5mm Offset-Black
P.N.: KT-BTB44-BA msrp $529.90
2013+ KTM Rubber Mounted Triple Clamp Set 19mm Offset-Orange
P.N.: KT-BTB14-GE msrp $529.90