If you drive your Corvette hard, good driving shoes can make for better car control because much of that controlling is done with your feet on the gas and brake pedals and, in "three-pedal" manual trans cars, the clutch.
"Driving shoes" are not the same as “running shoes.” Good driving shoes are an important driver's tool. They have special features which enable drivers to exercise a higher level of authority over the pedals. Typically, they have a special sole design which enhances grip or traction on the pedals. They also often have a specific heel design to enable easier heel-and-toe downshifting. Good driving shoes should, also, be lightweight and made of leather.
There are several types of driving shoes. Professional Drag Racers and Land Speed Racers driving cars with supercharged engines or engines running on exotic fuels, such as nitromethane or methanol, wear very expensive fireproof boots meeting the SFI.20 specification. Other drivers, such as those competing in NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Racing or IMSA Weathertech Road Racing Series, wear SFI.5 high- or mid-top fire-retardant shoes.
Less formal motorsports participants, such as those who enter their Corvette in high-performance driver education (HPDE) events or open track day sessions often choose less expensive, non SFI-approved, all-leather shoes. Known in the driving shoe market as “HPDE shoes”, they may look sort of like running or cross-training shoes but they are designed for specifically for high-performance driving.
Katech’s “Track Attack HPDE Shoe” is an example of a great driving shoe for casual wear or trackday activities. Katech is known for hard-core, road race engine technology. During the years Katech was Corvette Racing’s engine supplier, it dominated U.S. and global GT road racing competition by capturing six championships and won the 24 Hours of LeMans six times.
Katech’s experience and knowledge gained in professional motorsports allowed them to perfect their street performance product line, including the Track Attack Shoe. We asked Jason Harding, Katech Director of Aftermarket Operations, “Why do a shoe?”
“Many of our customers participate in high performance driving events,” Harding told the CAC. “When I came across this HPDE shoe that we could have private-label manufactured with our logo, I thought it would be a good fit for our customers. The shoes are very comfortable–almost like slippers–so they are great to wear every day. They, also, give our HPDE and trackday customers a good-quality driving shoe.”
Harding sent us a pair of Track Attacks in size 10 to try out. Wearing the Track Attack HPDE Shoe around the house, office and shop confirmed that Harding told us about the shoe’s comfort. Indeed, they are more comfortable than my trusty pair of New Balance 991s and, they are quite a bit lighter. A pair of NB 991s weigh 29.76-oz. The Katech Track Attacks weigh only 20.18-oz. While Katech's driving shoes are not rated as "fire resistant" or "fire retardant", that they are made of leather means they will be more tolerant of heat than some synthetic fabric used in an inexpensive "running" shoe.
In the Corvette is where the Katech Track Attack is supposed to work best so, we rolled the "Blue Bullet 2", the CAC’s 2012 Z06 project car, out of the shop, slipped on the Track Attacks and went for a four-hour trip with our Corvette club.
Right away, we noted the Track Attacks’ more narrow soles make catching the wrong pedal with the edge of the shoe more difficult. Also, the toothed rubber soles do, indeed, grip pedals better. Again, we noted how comfortable these shoes are and we could feel that they are lighter than what we used to wear when driving the BB2. Lastly, the Track Attack shoes are trimmed in blue which matches the color of our Z06. Yes, we like some style, even with our driving shoes.
For more information on the Katech Track Attack driving shoe, see Katech's web site at http://katechengines.com/katech_inc/