April 13, 1964 - January 18, 2019
Veteran champion off-road racer Pete Sohren of Glendale, Arizona, died as a result of a non-racing accident while on the sand dune behind the El Cortez San Felipe Hotel in Baja, California. He was driving his youngest daughter, Farrah, to her first local race qualifier along with older daughter, Paige, in a UTV when his vehicle was struck directly on the driver's side by another UTV and he was pronounced dead on the scene. Sohren's daughters, Paige and Farrah, were transported to a hospital across the border in California for evaluation and treatment.
"Pistol Pete" Sohren has left his mark on the off-road industry by being himself. He was loud; very, very loud. And he was relentless. His words were used strategically; he wasn't a bully, he stopped the bullies. He fought for what he believed in. He loved the sport, speed, and always wanted to see his competitors at the finish line...alive. Pete inspired people from all ages and all walks of life to dream big, and to always 'go for it'. "He made dreams come true," said Pete's daughter Paige, "I am absolutely confident that he gave the sport more than it ever gave him. It gave him hell and he gave it back; maybe it's a tie."
Sohren started his racing career riding a three-wheeler at a SCORE Parker 425 race in the 1980s. He was known for being a competitive racer on a working man's budget, racing multiple classes including Class 9, Class 5, Class 7, Class 3, Bajalite Prolite, Pro 2, and Trophy Truck. Over the course of his career, he had 11 podiums in SCORE and Best in the Desert (BITD), including three wins at the SCORE San Felipe 250. In 2001, he coasted across the finish line with a blown motor and remained the victor.
In 2004, Sohren founded his own business, Speedway Indoor Karting. Though many of his friends and family doubted his vision, in normal Pistol-fashion, he stayed persistent and consistent. After opening day, he ordered two Geiser Brothers Trophy Trucks. Speedway doubled as his race shop and his employees doubled as prep guys. The trucks were some of the first Geiser Brothers Trophy Trucks ever built and the first three-seaters.
Pistol Pete was certainly an innovator and he had a little P.T. Barnum-style hustle in him. The three-seater was built with the driver seat in the center, with the GPS navigator on the right and the gauge reader on the other. His idea was to provide the driver with better visibility on both sides. It also allowed the navigator to stay more focused on the course, and the gauge reader more focused on the truck's performance. The biggest bonus of the three-seat orientation was that two people could hop out for tire changes and neither of them was Pistol... (He would never admit that this was his whole reason behind the three-seat idea.)
With a third seat, it also opened up the opportunity for a 'dreamer' to rent a ride in the greatest off-road adventure on Earth; some were just regular guys and some were A-List celebrities. The third rental seat was a springboard for Pistol. It started as a creative idea to enhance performance, and it actually launched Pistol's next business venture/adventure. In 2009, he started Baja Racing Adventures; this is where Sohren shined the most. This is where his legacy lives on in the Off-Road Industry. He designed, built, raced, and rented trucks called Bajalites. These were incredibly strong entry-level trucks because they were simple, lightweight, and durable. Even when piloted by inexperienced individuals, the trucks had impressive results, opening up the sport of off-road to new audiences.
The History Channel was looking for hosts for their new show, Truck Night in America, and Pistol Pete got the call. Truck Night in America made its debut in 2018, with Pete as one of the hosts -- iconic wrap-around sunglasses, signature mullet, and unmistakable voice. We'll never know how far Sohren would have been able to take his television career.
"My dad changed the lives of friends, family, neighbors, racers, and strangers," said Pete's daughter Paige, "He treated everyone with the same authentic, honest, genuine spirit. It might have been a little spicy, but he never treated anyone like they were less than him. He was a self-made man, and he faced every challenge that the world would throw at him. He was courageous, authentic, extraordinary, influential, legendary." -- Paige Sohren
Loved or hated, right or wrong, in the end, what matters is that Pistol Pete was a great mentor and family man who passionately drove off-road racing's overall dialogue. Along with that unforgettable hair, he used that voice to great effect, garnering him a loyal following with fans and sponsors alike. -- Marty Fiolka
Contributors: SCORE International, Marty Fiolka, Sohren Family