We found the best driving shoe for everyday use
Looking for a driving shoe that fits your everyday lifestyle? Piloti has you covered
Specifically made racing “boots” first started appearing in the 1960s. Prior to that, professional racecar drivers wore ordinary casual shoes for racing, sometimes wrapped in tape to provide better traction and stability. The main point of a racing shoe is the extremely thin sole allowing drivers an increased feel of the pedals and a better fit in the footwell of a racecar. That sounds good, however the flipside is that racing shoes offer almost non-existent support and comfort for actual walking. What if a company combined the benefits of a racing shoe with the comfort of an everyday sneaker?
I personally wear driving shoes by Piloti and find they do exactly that. Piloti has been making handcrafted shoes for over 20 years. Before they began creating driving shoes for everyday use, they first mastered producing actual racing boots starting in 1999.
Their successful time providing multi-purpose footwear to championship racers includes a partnership with F1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri. What made the Piloti race boot so popular at the highest level of motorsports was the way they added comfort to a racing shoe. Canadian racing legend and 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Ron Fellows had been suffering from nerve damage in the ball of his right foot from racing and was considering retirement before he switched to exclusively wearing Piloti. He shared, “I credit the technology in Piloti shoes for extending my career. Piloti preserves the pleasure of driving.”
After mastering making precision shoes used for an extended period of time by professional racers, Piloti turned their attention to applying that technology to a shoe you can wear every day. After all, there are very few situations where auto enthusiasts need actual race boots. Most of the time we want the benefits of a lightweight comfortable shoe that offers sensitivity in the foot controlling the pedals, but in a shoe we can wear all day. AND… a shoe that looks good. Is that too much to ask? Well, the same technology that saved Ron Fellows’ racing career now exists in a comfortable everyday shoe.
Piloti makes a variety of shoes for anyone that enjoys driving, whether on a backroad cruise or a high-speed track day. They are shoes that look good enough and are comfortable enough to go straight from an autocross event to out to dinner (ask me how I know!).
I recommend Piloti shoes because I have felt the difference they make. Previously I would wear running shoes in almost all situations, which of course were not specifically designed for driving. Piloti has a solution. Actually, they have quite a few solutions. They design shoes that are made for driving AND everyday use. I use mine for way more than just driving. But when I do want to do more spirited driving, the thinner (but not tight) fit combined with the high abrasion rubber sole really sticks to the pedals. I can feel the difference between wearing my Pilotis and any of my running or casual shoes. What surprises me the most is even with plantar fasciitis my feet aren’t sore after wearing them walking around all day. Even without the driving benefits, these are just great comfortable shoes.
Piloti Shoes is owned by automotive enthusiasts and racecar drivers Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, and Jeff Segal. They bring a wealth of driving experience to the company including driving together for class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, along with overall GTD IMSA championship. From the top down, this is a company that is passionate about driving. Sweedler’s vision propels Piloti towards becoming a household name in the automotive lifestyle space. Teasing their meticulously designed strategy involving expansive new categories, strategic partnerships, and innovative marketing approaches, Piloti emerges as a captivating force poised to redefine the industry.
Vehicle inspiration shows up in many forms in the shoes themselves: Gulf livery inspired shoe colors, shoelace eyelets shaped like the beautiful headlights from the Pagani Zonda, and collaborations with Corvette, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Plus, every shoe even has a subtle hint included, a red hand stitch across the back of the shoe to symbolize a brake light. They look to partner with groups that are as passionate about the amateur racing community as they are, which is why their next collaboration is with Skip Barber Racing Schools.
Regardless of the influence on the style, each shoe has to be comfortable to wear while still being useable in a pedal box. Piloti has a philosophy of less is more and it works to create a shoe that gives incredible feel while driving. These are true car people. They even share their favorite driving roads on their website.
Why They are Different
When creating a driving shoe, the challenge was always going to be making a sole that was thin enough to feel the pedals yet comfortable enough to wear every day. They accomplished this by creating a 4mm strobel layer impact foam creating a more flexible lightweight shoe. Almost every shoe features this technology with the insole on top of that layer. Another unique feature is inside the base of the shoe that features a steel shank running along the length. It’s not something you can feel, but it adds the support you need to keep wearing them every day. Unlike other shoes, the sole is not just glued to the upper, but also stitched. The insole is dual density antimicrobial with proper (and removable) arch support for comfort, like what is found in high end running shoes. There is a reason why the fit and feel is the most common praise from customers.
Different than competitors, Piloti shoes are not mass produced in a factory. Piloti’s General Manager James Bleakley is passionate about the quality of the shoes. “These are hand crafted using some of the best Italian leathers selected from a top-rated tannery known for having the highest quality leathers in the world” said Bleakley. “By using a quality leather, it allows the customer to actually polish, wax, and rehydrate them to create a longer lasting product. In order to make some of the best quality shoes available, we chose to have them assembled in Portugal, home to some of the world’s best shoemakers.”
What Makes Them a Driving Shoe?
In addition to the flexible sole that allows better pedal feel, there is something very special in the heel of every Piloti. Virtually every shoe in the world is designed only for a vertical impact from user’s foot to the sole of the shoe. When you drive however, there is a totally different angle of impact putting pressure on the back of the shoe heel, which is not designed to support it. This is what can cause your feet to become fatigued after long periods of driving. Pilotis are specifically designed with a rounded heel that they have a patent on. It’s a perfectly even curvature from bottom of the shoe to the back of the shoe, as well as side-to-side, making it ideal to rest your foot on while driving. The rounded heel is also their key to better side-to-side ankle movement in the pedal box.
Piloti successfully took the best parts of a race boot and combined it with the best parts of a comfortable shoe. Then went a step farther by adding some flair to make them stylish. You can make them your everyday sneakers that are comfortable enough standing up in all day at the office like I have. Yet you’re wearing something that was handcrafted in Portugal with uncompromised feel of the pedals for an exceptional driving experience. I understand now why the company name means “driver” in Italian. Piloti has been making shoes for over 20 years that are inspired by the greatest automobiles and made for people who love to drive. If you want to experience real comfort and better feel and control while driving (a must have for any driving enthusiast!), try 15% off a pair of Piloti Shoes by using the code “HAGERTY” at checkout at Piloti.com.