Since the fire risk in racing is as high as it is, it makes sense that driver uniform includes fire retardant shoes and gloves to go along with it. Although they are frequently overlooked by many fans, they are just as critical to driver safety and comfort as the suit and helmet. Gloves and shoes have, like the suit and helmet, become fashion forward in recent years.
Let’s look at the gloves first. Gloves in racing are typically made of multiple layers of Nomex, and feature a textured layer on the palm, which is designed to help the driver grip the steering wheel. Gloves may be waterproofed for open cockpit racing, where rain and other inclement weather may not impede the race. The gloves give the same amount of protection that the suit does, roughly 30 seconds, and are certified by FIA and SFI. This example, worn by Hut Stricklin in 2000 shows the basics..
As I mentioned above, gloves have evolved to be more visible on in-car cameras. These examples, worn by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson show how these new customizations can take a simple safety equipment item, and add some visual appeal to it. A search on eBay reveals that these items do wind up for sale after they are used.
Next, let’s discuss the shoes.
Shoes are as important as gloves in terms of fire protection. Those 30 seconds of fire protection are critical for the driver to get out of a burning car. The basic design of the shoes are meant to help the driver, well, drive. Some drivers in years past have opted for nontraditional racing shoes, such as Dave Marcus who was well-known for wearing wingtips while racing.
Typical racing shoes consist of a rubber, fire retardant sole, with triple-layer Nomex material covering the foot. The tongue, and shoe laces are fire retardant as well. Velcro straps are frequently employed to secure the shoe as extra protection. Let’s look at a race-worn pair, this pair worn by Scott Riggs in the early 2000’s.
While the design of the gloves are fashion forward, the shoes are more utilitarian than anything else. But they do wind up on eBay sometimes…
Jamie McMurray #1 Bell Helicopters Chevy SS Love the simplicity in the design and color scheme, as well as Bell’s great logo! It is simple, yet elegant, and earns an A grade
Kasey Kahne #5 Farmer’s Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevy SS It’s amazing how a color change can affect a scheme. I graded the standard scheme at a D+ earlier this year, and with the black red and tan color change it takes it from a D+ to an A-. Notice that there is no real difference between the two schemes except the colors and the new one is so much better!
Kevin Harvick #29 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS I like this scheme for the same reasons as the Jamie McMurray Bell scheme, and it gets the same A grade!
David Stremme #30 Window Wax Toyota Camry The best way I can describe this scheme is that there is nothing good about it. Anything they could have messed up with this scheme, they did. It gets an F-
David Stremme #30 Lean 1 Toyota Camry See Above
Landon Cassill #33 Justin Workboots Chevy SS I like the design scheme except for the primary sponsor logo is a completly different color than the rest of the car. The thing is that the two color schemes work very well by themselves, but the combo of the two just makes no sense. It takes an A scheme and brings it down to a C…PICK A COLOR SCHEME!