Magazine | Then and Now
From green suede to fluo leather0%

FROM GREEN SUEDE TO FLUO LEATHER

How long is the time jump between these two shoes? Not as long as the image would suggest: from 2000 to 2016. With his peculiar OMP Best, in the “Valleverde” green version, Eddie Irvine at his first Jaguar F1 season is the virtual testimonial of this comparison. The time machine match is with the latest OMP racing shoe: One Evo R, 2016 version. 16 years or a geological era? Motorsport evolution is as fast as the cars on track.

NO SLIPPERS, PLEASE
Racing shoes designer tended to lower the back part of the boots, to counteract the heat. FIA regulations put a stop to this trend by establishing a minimum height for that part. OMP introduced a bellow-shaped insert to give the driver comfort and safety at the same time.
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    THICK SOLE
    Protection of foot was seeked, until the early 2000s, through the thickness and rigidity of the rubber sole.

    MIND THE PEDAL
    This lateral protection is a must, because it saves the shoe from the friction against the pedals. Only the resistance of the part, due to the evolution of materials, has been increased.

    LET US BREATHE
    The big problem of racing shoes until the early 2000s: too little transpiration in those closed suede boots stuffed with too much rubber foam. This insert finally has given some breath to the driver’s foot. It’s completely fire retardant, so it has been allowed by FIA regulations.

    No laces anymore.
    OMP rotor system, borrowed from cycling, avoids possible troubles with bundles and untying. The thin string is made of steel to guarantee fire retarding: this material has had a slight evolution in the years, and now is more flexible than ever.

    SUEDE & LEATHER
    2000: STAY OFF MY GREEN SUEDE SHOES! Suede has been, in fact, the highlight in racing shoes fashion for years. Simply, it was over-requested, before fading out. 2016: KANGAROO JUMP Calfskin and kangaroo leather, this last in particular, are the new standard for their elasticity. The lamination technology has raised the bar, allowing the use of fluo colors.
    SOLE EVOLUTION
    2000: LOOKS LIKE A TIRE A relic from those years when racing shoes soles were designed after tires. 2016: A BIT OF SMOOTHNESS Nowadays, soles are conceived differently for track and rally racer. The latter are a bit thicker because there’s less need for sensibility, and at the same time shoes must be worn all day long.
    EDDIE IRVINE’S “VALLEVERDE” BOOTS
    14 years after his retirement from F1, EDDIE IRVINE (1965) is still remembered as one of the most nice and peculiar personalities in the Circus. Maybe a bit too much: his playboy reputation, and some very, very frank interviews may somehow have blurred the profile of a very good driver indeed: his career zenith is 1999 F1 season with Ferrari when, after teammate Michael Schumacher’s crash in Silverstone, the Northern Irish driver took the matter into his hands and seriously contended world title to Mika Hakkinen, and eventually finished runner up. His teams: Jordan (1993 to 1995), Ferrari (1996 to 1999), Jaguar (2000 to 2002).
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