DAKAR BIKES: CASELLI AND CAMPBELL BRING DAKAR FEVER HOME – race-deZert.com

DAKAR BIKES: CASELLI AND CAMPBELL BRING DAKAR FEVER HOME

IN THE FUTURE, THE DAKAR RALLY WILL BE A REALLY BIG DEAL IN THE USA AMONG THE BIKE FANS- WHEN THAT HAPPENS THESE TWO HEROES WILL BE CREDITED FOR THEIR EFFORTS

The unknown. It is the mystery of what we’ve yet to understand that draws us in; but for some, the unknown is something to avoid kind of like resistance of someone not wanting to get out of there comfort zone.

American hero Kurt Caselli came into the DAKAR Rally cold. But after winning 2 stages, he seems pretty hot on the future.

The DAKAR RALLY has these effects particularly in North America where the rally is hugely under-represented and largely ignored. As we try to explain this cause and effect relationship its almost like opening Pandora’s box because the United States is a leader in motorsports racing yet our racing culture is very different than other parts of the world (i.e.: the difference between NASCAR and WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP). This divergence in culture is what makes the DAKAR seem so foreign. No American has ever won the DAKAR and only a relative few have even tried. But once a fan or racer gets their first taste of the DAKAR, they become hooked. Still, it is a matter a drawing attention to the rally many call the world’s largest and most significant motorsports event.

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When American motorcycle champion Kurt Caselli became a last minute choice to replace KTM’s Mark Coma, it was good news for US fans of the DAKAR because we need someone as likable as Caselli to go down to South America, do well and bring the word of the DAKAR back home to the fans.

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That’s exactly what happened when Caselli, aka “Captain America” won his first ever DAKAR stage (stage 7), surprising many in a very good way. Social media allowed the word of Caselli’s historic win to spread quickly, pointing many fans to tune into nightly coverage of each days highlights on NBC Sports channel. Later in the rally’s stage 11, Caselli won again. This is important here because news of the rookie American’s success began to force fans to learn more about the complexities of the rally’s compliance and rules. The better Caselli did, the more his fans need to learn about the DAKAR.

Kurt Caselli after winning stage 11
Kurt Caselli after winning stage 11

The same is true when it comes to 11-time BAJA 1000 winner Johnny Campbell, a hugely popular icon in the desert and a 3-time DAKAR finisher. Campbell’s allure is mighty and news of him being named to HRC’s new HONDA RALLY Team back in October spread quickly. When Campbell earned a 2nd place finish in stage 8, all of his fans back home continued to cheer him on. When word started spreading that Campbell was suffering painfully injured ribs and some serious bumps and bruises, fans rallied even harder for “Mr. 11-Time”

Johnny Campbell is helping to spread DAKAR fever, in a good way.
Johnny Campbell is helping to spread DAKAR fever, in a good way.

There are many barriers to the DAKAR, not the least of which is the massive financial commitment, which is staggering. Next, the labyrinth of technical compliance, navigation requirements and tricky regulations make the DAKAR an “extreme event” and that’s even before the first stage starts. Finally, a notable barrier to the DAKAR is its foreign nature: this isn’t the way we race in our deserts.

MOTORSPORT -  DAKAR 2013 - PART 1

Still, DAKAR fever is catching on in the US every New Year due partly to Facebook, Twitter and youtube. But when a really well-liked pair of American champions start getting podium stage finishes, it is a sign of things to come: Kurt Caselli will be back next year and, if he decides he really wants to focus on it, he will likely win the next DAKAR Rally in 2014. When that happens, the US sponsors will grow a few pairs and start supporting our best racers in the world’s premier Rally Raid.

 

9 Comments

  1. I agree , having well known riders do well will expose the Dakar to more people , but there have been numerous American riders in the past that deserve reconigtion for there efforts also .

    The Dakar is an addiction for both riders and fans .

  2. Kudos to Kurt and Johnny!

    But let’s not forget about our pioneering riders who also won stages such as Mike Krynock and Jonah Street. And also Jimmy Lewis … who finished on the podium one year!

    Go USA!!

    E-Ticket

  3. Absolutely John & E those are exceptional points. Perhaps US fans owe Blais, Lewis, Street and Cody a big thanks for starting and fanning the flame in recent years. The flame can start a wildfire because there is no question in my mind that Caselli can win as early as next year if he decides to. Imagine KTM’s motivation for grooming the first ever American DAKAR winner, especially after seeing KC’s historic debut. I’m pretty sure KTM put him there for a reason. So if we really think about it from all angles, its hard to find an argument against him going back and winning the whole damn thing.

    *BTW: it is all about the bikes

  4. Americans Chris Blais , and Danny Laporte also had podium finishes . and shouldnt be forgotten . Kurt Caselli , and J.C.’s popularity sparked renewed interest in Dakar for sure . i doubt i would have followed the race whithout these two racers Thanks Scotty !

  5. I believe Quin Cody will be returning to Dakar next year. He missed this year due to injury.

    Hopefully when Coma returns they don’t expect KC to be a water carrier for him.

  6. I learned that the first American to participate in the Dakar was Chuck Stearns in 1985. He finished 6th out of only 25 motorcycle finishers and won 6 stages! He came from Southern California and was a member of the Checkers MC. He passed away from an illness either that year or the next and his brother, who brought up this fact in our local newspaper, lives here in my community.

    1. Hallo,

      I have the Yamaha factory bike of Chuck Stearns from 1985 in my garage and I am also in contact with Barbara, his mother. Yes he died in October 1985 having AIDS, which was not well known at that time. Some years before he had an accidient aand got blood which was contaminated.
      Finding Barbara in the internet from an article in the local californian news paper I contacted here and we met personally in Italy last year. This was a great day for me. We had a great time talking about Chuck, the PD, my hobby and so on.
      I think Chuck was a great rider and would be always in the top of Paris Dakar in the next years.

      If there is any question please contact me.

      Henning

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