These Simpson Heatshield Speedways...
These Simpson Heatshield Speedways are the same type of shoes that kept racer Scott Spicer from burning his feet in a fiery crash at Southern Mississippi Speedway in August 2006.
Nearly every glove that we have seen has a leather palm. While other materials have been tried, leather still provides the best grip on the steering wheel and shifter. This is important because your grip is greatly affected by the type of glove you choose, which brings us back to a point made in the firesuit story-try it on! That one may seem painfully obvious, but here are a few things to look for when trying on a glove.
Comfort: Duh, it has to feel good.
Stitching: The gloves should have double or even triple stitching for added security. In addition, check with the manufacturer to see if fire-retardant threads are used, such as the Kevlar thread used by Crow Enterprizes.
Go Backward: Some manufacturers construct their gloves with reversed seams. This is a comfort feature that delivers a completely smooth interior with no bumps or ridges to distract your grip.
Grip: Whether you go for the reverse seams or not, grab something while you are wearing the glove (ideally a steering wheel) and see how much feeling or touch the glove allows. It may seem obvious, but the glove is what stands between you and the wheel. That touch you get from the glove determines how well you grip the wheel, the type of input you get from the wheel, and more. Think of it this way-heavy, bulky gloves can act as a vibration damper between your hands and the wheel. So you want to balance feel with protection. A high-quality glove made from Nomex III or Carbon-X gives you a lot of feeling with maximum protection.
Many drivers who run longer...
Many drivers who run longer races opt for heat shields for added protection on their heels.
Next to gloves, shoes may be the most critical component, again for that feel or touch. Companies have spent gobs of money and time researching different designs and materials. The result is more options than a Chinese buffet. From mid-tops to high-tops, there are dozens of options with prices to match. You can find shoes starting at around $50 all the way up to some that break the $300 mark. Now, unless you have an endless checkbook, there is no need to drop three Benjamins on a shoe. Count on spending somewhere between 80 and 120 bucks for quality footwear.
Just like the gloves, there are a few points to pay careful attention to when selecting a pair of shoes.
Shoe-to-pedal contact: Also referred to as grip, good shoe-to-pedal contact is critical for enhancing your performance on the track. Most high-quality race shoes have a sole that features grooves and tread designs to enhance grip. This is very important, as you don't want your foot slipping off the pedal during qualifying or the main. You'll also find that the sole wraps around the heel and the toe on certain shoes for added grip.
Pedal feel: This is a big one. Much like your hands on the wheel, the way the pedal feels through your foot will determine how well you get on and off the gas when going through the turns. Pedal feel is key, so be sure to try on the shoe before you buy a pair.
Internal workings: Some manufacturers include features such as aluminized foot beds. These inner workings of the shoe can't be seen but add a lot to its performance. Aluminizing the foot bed is an added way of creating a heat barrier without affecting that all-important pedal feel.
Laces and little things: Pay attention to whether the laces, threads, and other small items are fire-retardant. Remember to ask the manufacturer about these items.
The bottom line is a good race shoe should feel like a great pair of slippers-comfortable and flexible with a ton of feel in your feet.
Heat Shields: A popular addition to race shoes are heat shields. Originally developed with NASA technology, these shields attach to the heel of your shoe and deflect heat away from your feet. Heat shields are particularly useful in longer races, where heat from the motor transfers into the driver's compartment over an extended period of time. Some manufacturers, such as Simpson Race Products, have incorporated this heat shield technology into their shoes.