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Feel is crucial to any form of performance driving, as being as connected as possible to the chassis, figuring out what each tire is doing, and making micro-adjustments when needed will always help with setting a fast lap.
At the same time, so is comfort and support. One of the best places to gain some feel and maintain comfort while turning laps is in one's shoes, and recently, Chicane sent me a pair of its Speedster driving shoes to test out for such duty. But like my dear BMW 128i that I've carefully modified to competently maintain dual street and track duty, Chicane says its Speedster is well-suited for the same service. Just, you know, on the foot-covering end of things.
Let's discuss what this means, as well as how the Chicane Speedster might stack up as a driving shoe that can go beyond the footwell.
Chicane offers the $160 Speedsters in three different colors—red, blue (dubbed Michelin Blue), and black—and in pretty much all common sizes. The brand says that they generally run a half-size small, so go up a size if you don't want your feet too crowded. I'm a size 11.5-12 depending on the brand, and I'd call the amount of room in a 12 just right for a driving shoe. My toes are very near the tip, but not scrunched.
They're overall thin and very light, plus have very thin no-fuss laces that aren't too long or too short. So far, after wearing them around the house, they’ve got good heel support and a thin sole under the toes—just what you want in a driving shoe. They've also got a wider toe box than a lot of racing shoes out there, which is a relief if you're like me and have massive/weird toes.
Casual and Under the Radar
The Speedster's more casual look is great, too.
I'm poking fun at this because I once did it myself: Wearing full-blown racing shoes with jeans at a track day is high-tier dork spec. The Drive is a no-judgment zone but be prepared for people to potentially point and laugh at you if you're schlepping around at your favorite local circuit sporting jeans of any cut and a teeny, thin-soled pair of $300+ racing shoes. I'm not even calling fashion sense into question; people just might think you take yourself too seriously. "If that guy's driving a Z06, we're definitely never getting a point-by from him after he inevitably parks it in the corners," they might say.
Oh come on, nothing wrong with a little humor!
But if this is a concern, then more under-the-radar driving shoes like Chicane's Speedster might be the ticket. Their design leans towards driving shoes due to their thinner soles, slim fit, and overall small size. But also have hints of old-school running and soccer shoes—think Adidas Sambas, various OG Sauconys, and so on. This might be music to the ears of my fellow late-30s nerds; when was the last time you thought of picking up a pair of Saucony Bullets?
I dig the look a lot; they look focused with the Michelin logo, checkered collar loop, and Chicane print, but still discreet and daily-wear-friendly. And, as an old-school-running-shoe-loving millennial, they definitely tick that box, too.
What Would You Like to Know?
Coming from motorsports equipment retail, I've owned quite a few pairs of driving and full-on racing shoes (again, I've been one of those dorks) in my day, besides the dozens of models that I've tried on and sold to consumers. I'm excited about this review as it's very much in my wheelhouse, and will be comparing them with Sparco's latest Futura and Piloti's popular Shift. Stay tuned for their initial impressions.
What would you like to know about the Chicane Speedster? I'll be wearing them out and about doing non-car stuff, on a lengthy road trip, and on track. Once I rack up enough miles with these and their competitors, look forward to many thoughts!