"If I say I'm going to order the shocks to fix your truck, then I am," he says, stepping around the six boxes of shocks he ordered. "I'm not a fucking liar. That's not how I do business."

Sohren's indignant about his integrity being questioned. Hot-headedness is typical in off-road racing. The sport's road-warrior mentality and army of expensive, modified desert cars fuel the drivers' competitive fire. Things can get nasty when so much money and pride is at stake. Case in point: Sohren's feud with Greg Foutz, owner of Chandler-based Foutz Motorsports.

Early last year, Sohren purchased three Trophylite trucks from Foutz. He planned to rent them to other drivers but says the trucks weren't built correctly. Sohren says Foutz refused to fix the trucks; Foutz says Sohren never fully paid his bills for the trucks. Both went at each other in online racing forums for months.

Mayhem in the mud.
Mayhem in the mud.
Parker 425 winner BJ Baldwin.
Parker 425 winner BJ Baldwin.

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Pete Sohren will compete in the San Felipe 250 race in Baja on March 12 through 14, to be webcast live on racing sites bajaracingsnews.com and rpmtvonline.com.

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Sohren fixed the Trophylites himself and recently re-sold them, but he still holds a grudge against Foutz. "He's a moron. I was stuck with trucks that were pieces of shit. It hurt my business for a year," he says. "Greg Foutz is a liar and a snake, in my opinion."

In an interview with New Times, Foutz says Sohren's "so full of crap" and "needs to get over it." He seems wary of the topic now. "Pete's trucks are all gone now, so I don't know what he has to whine about anymore. What can I really say about it?"

Problems with trucks could stem from rough driving, too, Foutz says, and Sohren's not exactly known for taking it easy. "Yes, these trucks have 800-horsepower motors and can go over rocks and through washes, but they can be driven into the ground," Foutz says. "Some drivers ride the trucks too hard and just break them apart. Guys can be fast, but they've got to be fast and smart."

Sohren's feud with Foutz is just one piece of drama in a very long career. Sohren's love affair with off-road racing began more than 30 years ago, when he was a kid in Salem, Oregon, riding in a dune buggy with his father, a tall, rough-and-tumble man from Oklahoma known as "Cowboy Bob."

He got serious about the sport when he was about 13, after his family moved to Arizona and his father introduced him to a local racecar driver named Bob Austin.

Austin, now retired, started racing off-road vehicles in the mid-'70s. He met Sohren in 1981 and remembers him as an enthusiastic high school kid (with the same mullet hairstyle he has today) who would come to Austin's garage and help him work on his racecar.

"He was a newbie. He knew a little about mechanic work but, really, he was just so glad to be involved. And when you do desert racing, you take all the help you can get," Austin says. "He was a very upbeat and energetic kid. He still is."

Sohren attended the annual San Felipe 250 race in Baja California with Austin several times as a teenager on his pit crew and, eventually, he got behind the wheel. "And that was the end of it, right there," he says. "I was hooked forever."

He got an after-school job at an off-road racing shop called Dirt Tricks at 18th Avenue and McDowell Road, near the state fairgrounds. He also got his own welder and started building parts in his garage.

"So that's how it began," Sohren says. "You get addicted to the sport. It's probably something like how people are addicted to drugs. Most people in off-road racing are in it forever."

Between races, Sohren takes his kids camping, boating, and hunting. His petite, blond wife, Cami, whom he met at a Phoenix Suns game in 1996, attends most races with him, sometimes with their four children — Paige, Van, Blair, and Farrah.

A certified public accountant, Cami handles the books for Sohren's two businesses, Speedway Raceway and Baja Racing Adventures. The latter rents off-road trucks to beginner drivers and sells ride-alongs for 10 grand each in Sohren's number-two "Pistola" truck at the Baja 1000 race.

The money helps finance Sohren's racing team and truck; he says his popularity gets him sponsors. "It's hard to compare it to another sport, but let's say you're Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA — you're one of the most popular guys in your sport," Sohren says. "That's what our team is in the desert."

Cami's gotten used to people approaching him. "He seems really well known. When we go out to dinner, almost every time, someone will come up and ask, 'Are you Pistol Pete Sohren?' I mean, everywhere," Cami says. "We go places, and if it's anything race-related, we can't even walk two feet without people wanting to shake his hand or take his picture."

Sohren's definitely well known in racing circles, and not just for his driving. "He tells it like it is. He's got this in-your-face attitude and doesn't sugar-coat anything," says Shaun Ochsner, a television producer for Lucas Oil Motorsports. "He's got that kind of personality where people either love him or love to hate him."

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4 comments
Tim
Tim

Pete and his crew are some of the best people i have ever had the pleasure of meeting. and off-road racing has alotted me a wonderful hobby and exciting times to share with my family and friends. congrats on the article Pete see you out in the desert

Richard Cranium
Richard Cranium

Good article! A few error's but any press is good press for Off-Road Racing. Just so you know Mike Overcast is no friend of Off-Road Racing..

JGunn
JGunn

Pete won the Henderson 400 in 2005, i navigated that race so I know. Search that race and you will see!

 

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