THE GOLDEN PAGE
BACK IN THE DAY BACK IN THE DAY
The Caselli Cup: 10 years of “America’s Top Off-Road Riders”
Last month Kailub Russell was awarded the Caselli Cup by the
editors of Dirt Bike. That made him the
10th winner of the award, which is our
official recognition of America’s Top Off-Road Rider. We thought it was a perfect
time to look back at the evolution of the
2006: In the beginning, the Caselli
Cup wasn’t called that. We made a list
of America’s 100 best off-road riders,
based partly on the results of 2005
and partly on potential for the coming
season. The man who topped the list
was the amazing Juha Salminen. He
came to America from Finland along
with his mechanic Antti Kallonen and
utterly dominated the GNCC series.
Second that year was Nate Woods.
Third was Kurt Caselli. Other notables
were Ryan Hughes in fourth, Charles
Mullins in 14th, Chris Bach in 70th and
Wally Palmer in 95th. Nate and Kurt
are no longer with us. South African
Elmer Symons also made the list and
subsequently lost his life in Paris Dakar.
2007: British David Knight came
stateside to replace Juha for KTM and
was the fastest man racing on U.S.
soil in 2007. Nationality didn’t matter;
the award was to honor the fastest
man racing in America, but it also
gave consideration to those riders who
represented the U.S. on foreign soil,
such as Baja and the Six Days. The
latter of those put Caselli once again
in second, as he had led the American
Junior World team to victory.
2008: Kurt Caselli’s performance
in the 2007 ISDE combined with his
WORCS championship made him
number one on the Top 100 list. He also
won in 2011 and 2012—the only rider to
win more than once.
2009: Ricky Dietrich came alive in 2008, winning the new
EnduroCross championship, getting an ISDE gold medal
and barely missing the WORCS title.
2010: Starting with 2010, the list was limited to the top
25 riders in the country. New Zealander Paul Whibley
was the top rider that year, based on his 2009 GNCC
championship. At this point three of the five riders to
receive the award had been from overseas.
2013: After Kurt Caselli’s back-to-back wins in ’ 11 and
’ 12, it was Taylor Robert’s turn to win. Taylor had won the
WORCS championship and been top American at the ISDE
Kailub Russell was the 2015 winner of the Caselli Cup.
in the previous season, but was looking primarily at racing
the X Games EnduroCross events for 2013.
2014: With the permission of the Caselli family, the
award given to America’s Top Off-Road rider was renamed
the Caselli Cup. Along with the new name came a new
direction. Instead of simply recognizing the fastest rider,
the award would be given to the rider who showed the
most versatility, determination and drive. In short, it would
be the person who best reflected the spirit of Kurt Caselli.
In 2014, that rider was Charlie Mullins. ❏