Racing shoes provide extra grip when driving and due to their thin sole, also improve pedal feel. But most importantly, they are typically made of fire-resistant materials called Nomex, which can help to prevent the wearer from getting burnt in the event of a fire. If you are doing any sort of officially sanctioned auto racing, you will need FIA-approved Nomex racing shoes/boots.
You may have heard of Piloti before due to their large presence in the automotive apparel and racing equipment scene and after testing out the company’s high-end Competizione shoe, we’re happy to report that there is some substance behind the hype. We used our Piloti Competizione shoes for karting and some track day driving, but these boots are legal for use whether you’re racing rental karts, going on a spirited Sunday drive or winning Formula 1 races.
It should be noted that buying racing shoes online can be less than ideal, as the most important thing with regards to shopping for them is fit. They can be hard to find in-store, however, so if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, online shopping may be your only option.
The Piloti Competizione is high-quality in appearance and feel. While not very thick in places, the suede outer material looks and feels expensive, as it should for a $200-$250 shoe. We appreciate the uncluttered, almost brand-free design, as we think many others will if they use these shoes for street driving. Some of the stitching and build quality on the tongue was a bit jagged and inconsistent, but nothing major.
The fit is rather skinny and narrow, which is true for almost all racing shoes, so you may want to buy a half-size larger if you want to ensure ideal fit.
I used these racing shoes for karting initially. The red died rubber material on the sole began to wear off and peel after a single use – both on the heel and along the sides. The shoes may take a bit more of a beating in a race kart than in a car, but it did give me some concerns that the shoes wouldn’t hold up over time.
This peeling didn’t get worse, though, and stopped once certain areas had rubbed off. The shoes look okay after a season of karting but definitely appear a bit used up. If you’re racing karts or even cars that may get extremely hot inside, these shoes may take a bit of a beating over time.
If you’re only going to use these for road driving, i’d be surprised if they became damaged at all. Street cars typically don’t punish footwear with their rubber-covered pedals, carpeted footwells and climate controlled cabins. I used them on a track day once and they felt great.
These shoes are of average comfort. They aren’t designed to be Dr. Scholl’s, obviously, but they are a bit snug and have a hard sole. We wouldn’t suggest doing too much walking with these – just walking around the paddock in them feels a bit odd and can get pretty uncomfortable. They should be used for what they are designed for, driving and racing, as they may not hold up properly if used for lots of walking.
Q & A
Our Final Verdict
While these shoes leave something to be desired with regards to durability and comfort, they should hold up fine if you are using them with cars and not karts. We wouldn’t want to do too much walking in them, but do provide good pedal feel. We like the subtle, tasteful branding compared to competing products from Sparco and Alpinestars and think they look great in both available colors. They fit a bit snug, however, so you may want to buy a half size larger than you normally would.
Piloti also makes shoes more tailored for walking than driving, such as the Piloti Prototipo.
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