Why Spend the Money on a Racing Shoe?
At one of our 2018 track-side support events we learnt that the senior HPDE instructor was advising his students to buy wrestling shoes because they were s cheaper alternative to a race shoe - with the implication they worked just as well. This got us thinking - and disputing the claim. A) wrestling shoes are not cheaper (Racequip SFI rated shoes pricing starts at $70. B) The shoes profile may be similar but they are not the same and they are not fire-retardant!
The Anatomy of a Race Shoe
There are common denominators shared by all race shoes with good reasons
The wrestling shoe offers a high ankle support but look at the soles they are made to grip and flex.
The Sole of a Race Shoe is flat, slim, thin, stiffer for optimal pedal feel and control
Also lesser grip especially when compared to conventional driving shoes. It is presumed your feet will be doing a lot of quick work and nothing should impede this effort.
Race shoes are for racing.
They are not designed to be comfortable or functional, except when driving. They have very little arch support so not great for walking around the paddock - bring another shoe for that.
A Race Shoe’s heel configuration
The race shoe heel is weighted, rounded and pronounced. The thicker (compared to the sole,) heavier heel to balance and anchor their foot. Some race shoes have advanced technical designs with asymmetrical heels and innovative structures. The heels are designed for gear shifting and heel-toe movement.
Note the cut in the top of the shoe’s back ankle profile.
The race shoe’s side profile is high for optimum ankle support. However,without this back cut-out the rear top of the shoe would restrict movement and potentially rub into the driver’s heel causing discomfort, irritation and would be a distraction - never good when racing.
The Wrestling Shoe is similar but would not survive the rigors of auto racing.
Neither is the heel weighted or designed for continuous heel action. They are made for the demands of wrestling - but they do look comfortable.
The Karting shoe…
An alternative to buying the more expensive FIA or SFI rated race shoe is to buy a shoe designed for karting. They have the same profiles and characteristics of the race shoe minus the fire-retardant additions so often lighter.
Karting shoes are constructed for the unique, external demands and rigors of the sport. As a result they mostly do not use natural fibers(cheaper) and the manufacturers do not have to pay for the SFI, FIA certifications.
However, remember - they are not fire-retardant!
The Best Race Shoes will have…
Smooth edges, extremely flat and thin soles, weighted and rounded heels,wear patches at critical locations, a lacing system that will never distract or impede the driver, maximize breathability with perforated leather or other technical materials and pad the ankle for comfort/support.
Your race shoe should fit like a glove.
Choose a brand, model and size that fits your feet.
All driver’s distractions are both a safety and performance issue!
Alpinestars’ most minimalist and most expensive shoe..$429
Why - Kangaroo leather - supportive, light, wear resistant, holds shape and breathable.
Minimalist design - for weight reduction, ease of use and note screen printed.
Sparco Race 2 Race Shoe
It is not made of a one piece kangaroo leather but it is a great, tough shoe and at a great price $100. We have found the foot platform fits most feet, even those customers with wider feet. Available in red, blue and black.
You can wear a wrestling shoe…
Look for a sale since they are not a cheaper alternative but know the shoe’s disadvantages. And when going to the track wear a shoe that is closest to the characteristics of a race shoe. Touch and feel is import for safety and performance.