From the early 1990s until his death in March of 2006, the personable Soens worked tirelessly attending meetings with land managers, politicians and other OHV leaders to make sure the sport of off-road recreation remained healthy.
He may not have received the trophies and the checkered flags, but you can bet that he was like the director whose purpose seemed to be making sure others received the credit. The thousands of hours were given with sincerity because Soens cared deeply about off-road racing and the people who participated in the sport.
In short, Soens was the volunteer everyone could count on to get the job done. His word was gold and his heart was sincere, especially when it came to doing things like rising at 5 in the morning to tow the latest fundraising raffle vehicle to a show. And when the show was done, it was Soens who stayed late to clean up.
Every year, Soens organized the CALPALS At Risk Youth Play Days where at risk youths that performed well in school spent the day learning how to ride an OHV. He was instrumental in getting an ATV training course opened in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Always known to use the phrase “It’s all about the kids,” the training course was named after him following his death. When he passed, the off-road racing world lost a tireless advocate, to say the least.
At last count, Soens belonged to something like 20 off-road groups with one tie or another to off-road motorsports. If he wasn’t home, you could bet that he was involved with the activities of at least one of the clubs.
However, among all of his strong points, one of the most effective may have been his ability to mobilize OHV advocates to make a difference. He was convincing, and there is little doubt that his ability to guide others led to continued improvement in off-roading. Land managers and politicians all over the state of California respected his opinion and continually counted on him for advice.
“Without Harold being the major organizing force behind so many fund raisers in the early ‘90s, I believe that many Southern California organizations like SDORC and CORVA would not be the major political and fund raising forces that they are today,” said Meg Grossglass, a Winchester, California resident who nominated her long-time friend for Induction to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame . “Both of these organizations helped for EcoLogic, which directs and funds the only full-time attorney working only off-road issues.
“Harold was a friend to hundreds of people at the local, state and national levels,” said Mindy Scharf, treasurer for the San Diego Off-Road Coalition.
Visitors to the California State Parks Ocotillo Wells SVRA can enjoy the Harold Soens Youth Training Track named in honor of Harold Soens. The dedication reads, “This training area is dedicated in memory of Harold Soens, a true legend of the off road community. Harold was a loving family man and trusted friend. Harold rarely said no, and was always there to lend a hand or a shoulder to someone in need. Harold’s dedication and work on behalf of the off road community has seldom been equaled and never surpassed. His passion for the sport inspired those around him to give more and believe in their own power to make a difference. Harold was a man that made a difference. Some love off-roading for the speed, some for the danger. Others love the feeling of freedom and the closeness to nature. Harold too loved these aspects our sport has to offer, but most of all he loved the time it brought with family and friends. Harold believed in the power of off-roading to help families grow strong and give kids a positive focus in life. Whether it be cooking for seven hundred inner city kids at a CalPALs event, or being instrumental in the design and development of this track, for Harold, “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS”
October 9, 1939 – March 30, 2006