The safety of a NASCAR driver is of utmost importance in every circumstance. Much of the driver’s safety depends on the gear they wear on their bodies, which naturally extends to their shoes. The technology of the gear that NASCAR drivers wear has evolved considerably in recent years, with the result that drivers today have far more options of superior equipment that will ensure optimal comfort.
NASCAR drivers wear specifically designed bootie-type shoes that assist them in their racing endeavors. The soles are thin to allow the drivers to feel every aspect of the driving experience. The shoes are fire and heat-resistant to protect the drivers and feature slim profiles for optimal driving.
NASCAR drivers have not always had the option of specially-designed shoes for driving purposes. However, as the sport developed, drivers complained of discomfort and ailments such as burning feet. As a result, a major need arose to develop a new type of shoe that would serve the specific needs of a NASCAR racecar driver. With the sport’s evolution and good design, a purpose-made shoe was born.
What Kind Of Shoes Do NASCAR Drivers Wear?
In the past, NASCAR drivers would wear whatever type of shoe they felt most comfortable in. However, the evolution of the sport required major development in the footwear required to effectively and efficiently drive their respective race cars.
Drivers frequently complained of the discomfort associated with wearing ill-equipped shoes while racing for hours. Their feet would also be exposed to extremely high temperatures. The soles of their shoes would often burn through completely, and drivers would suffer major burns and blisters on their feet.
Some drivers started wearing leather loafers with a heel, as this would provide a certain degree of protection from the extreme heat of the footrest. Drivers would have shoemakers install additional layers on the soles of their shoes to allow them to be more heat-resistant. However, the shoes used in racing needed not to have significant bulk as this would make it more difficult.
Over the years, a new type of racing shoe was designed that protected drivers from heat and fire while allowing them to use their feet in the most efficient way possible. These shoes are specifically designed for racing. They feature a soft, thin sole to allow easy movement and efficient grip.
In addition, these shoes provide a high degree of protection to the drivers to ensure their feet do not overheat or become injured during their race. The shoes must be flame-retardant and comply with – and be approved by – the FIA or SFI.
Features Of Racing Shoes
Various features of racing shoes make them suitable for use in this fast-paced, dangerous sporting environment. While some of the features of these carefully designed shoes are primarily for safety purposes, other features exist to optimize the driving experience for the driver.
The soles of racing shoes are one of the most important aspects of their design. A carefully designed sole ensures that the driver can perform in the best possible way. The soles of racing shoes are soft, thin, and flexible.
Firstly, racing shoes feature thin soles with maximum grip. This design allows the shoes to remain thin and light, ensuring that the shoe can fit the foot closely and tightly. The shoes take up as little space as possible, allowing maximum ergonomic efficiency. This will also prevent the shoes from getting caught when attempting to switch between pedals.
A racing driver needs to feel what is happening within the pedal of their car. They must be able to feel the slightest touch through their feet while racing. Feedback moves through the pedals, allowing the driver to gauge what is happening with the vehicle’s wheels.
In addition to feeling what is going on with the wheels, a racing driver uses their feet for a significant amount of intricate footwork. NASCAR drivers do not use their feet the same way as they do during conventional driving. They use various techniques involving intricate foot movements where they roll and twist their feet to perform various functions with the pedals.
To allow them to perform this level of footwork, a driver needs to be able to easily manipulate their feet on the pedals while driving. Soft, flexible soles will allow the driver to do exactly that. In addition, the shoes are shaped to allow the driver’s heel to pivot and roll in the easiest possible way.
The grip on the soles ensures drivers’ feet do not slip off the pedals while driving. As you can imagine, drivers need to retain an optimal grip on the pedals to remain fully in control of their vehicle.
Regarding safety features, racing shoes are designed to protect the drivers’ feet from flames and heat that may result from an accident. They are required to be flame retardant and usually feature a Nomex fire-retardant lining. This lining simultaneously adds to the rigidity and durability of the shoe.
The racing shoe soles will also feature a fire-retardant layer to protect the driver’s feet no matter the circumstances.
The materials of these shoes will naturally make a major difference to their overall performance. Leather is usually a great choice due to its comfort and durability. However, leather tends to retain heat to a large degree. Perforations are incorporated into the designs of some leather racing shoes to allow for ventilation and, therefore, more comfort.
Suede is another material that is often preferred to leather for racing shoes. Suede allows for a perfect balance between durability, heat protection, and flexibility.
Brands Of Racing Shoes
Various brands produce racing shoes. It’s important to check before purchasing racing shoes that the shoes you have in mind are approved by either the FIA or the SFI. This will ensure that the shoes meet all the required standards, allowing optimal performance and safety for the wearer.
Some of the most popular brands of racing shoes include:
NASCAR drivers wear specially-designed racing shoes with features ensuring safety, comfort, and optimal efficiency throughout their racing.
These shoes allow the drivers to move their feet efficiently and effectively on the pedals to optimize their driving. The shoes also allow the drivers to feel exactly what is happening with the vehicle while ensuring their safety from heat and fire.