Chicane Racing Shoes: For the American Racer

Driver Gear, Features I By Guest Contributor I January 30, 2023
Chicane Racing Shoes

Fueled by a Strong Passion for Motorsports and Footwear, Chicane was Born at the Track
By John Connelly – Founder and CEO of Chicane Racing Shoes

I first started going to sports car races when I was 16, first to VIR and the following year to Sebring, Daytona, and Watkins Glen. I continued going to races while in college and it became my dream to one day be a race car driver. The smell of race fuel, the fantastic engine sounds, the incredible cars were all in my blood. But life got in the way for 50+ years.

After selling my outdoor footwear company in 2018, I was able to focus my attention on auto racing and embrace the sport like never before. It was amazing and exhilarating to realize my dream of racing, but in the back of my mind I was missing the footwear business. Early one evening after the track (UMC) went cold and after a couple of beers I mentioned to my racing buddy, Scott, that we should start a new footwear brand for motorsports enthusiast to offset some of our track expenses. Scott, who is always up for adventure, said, “let’s do it”. Having been in the footwear industry for 40+ years I had the experience and connections to develop premium racing footwear, and with Scott’s long history in the racing community he knew many of the key players and brought authenticity to the concept. The plan was hatched.

The original idea was to approach the market with a women’s only line of racing footwear. Female participation in motorsports is still relatively small but is a growing subset and most racing organizations are trying to attract more women to the sport. I knew that all the other brands just offered unisex sizing and fit, so this would allow us to keep the line tight and offer the market something that wasn’t available elsewhere.

With the 2019 season winding down, the business planning started in earnest. We needed a name we could trademark and one that related to motorsports. The idea of CHICANE popped into my head one day while watching racing on TV. It was perfect. In racing, a Chicane is a series of tight turns in opposite directions. You hear it multiple times at races, during TV and radio broadcasts, you see it on track maps and anyone driving on a racetrack knows the meaning. We applied and received the trademark for Chicane Racing and it suddenly felt very real. It was time to get to work. To kick it off I decided to purchase a GT4 and convert it into a proper track car. After all, we were going to need it for all the testing we would be doing on our racing shoes!

Chicane Racing Shoes

As we began to develop some product concepts, I decided we should offer both men’s and women’s styles and I started thinking how we could differentiate Chicane from the competition other than just offering women’s specific sizing and fit. I had a contact at Michelin and called to tell him about our plans. I suggested that since they have the #1 racing tire wouldn’t it make sense to connect the driver to the car in same way tires connect the car to the track? He said, “great idea” and our partnership and collaboration with Michelin began. We’d now have the best soles for driving and racing; to connect the driver to the pedals by incorporating Pilot Sport tread designs and Michelin’s grippy and durable compounds.

Chicane Racing Shoes

Unfortunately, Covid started to rage causing delays and all kinds of challenges, and we had second thoughts about timing, but we were committed. I hired a well-known designer, a product development ace and marketing guru, all serious car guys. We decided to use lightweight PU for our thin midsoles in place of EVA to provide better durability and support. In addition to performance, we also focused on comfort and fit. The shoes are slim but have a squish more room in the toe-box compared to Euro brands. All styles have a proven, true ergonomic insole with a deep heel cup and proper arch to keep the foot in a neutral position improving performance, comfort, fit and feel, one of the features that made my previous company so successful. The shoes ended up being so comfortable most people leave them on all day.

Chicane Racing Shoes

In early 2022 we were able to soft-launch the brand with our Track Day shoe called the Speedster, and in late summer we delivered our GT collection of racing shoes. The silver lining of the delays is it allowed us more time for testing. Our pro driver, Dylan Murry, driving in the Porsche Carrera Cup Challenge Series and in IMSA LMP2, and we ourselves spent many hours driving in prototype shoes. Dylan driving in LMP2 was on the podium at the Rolex 24, 12Hours of Sebring and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen wearing our GT1 model. Lots of champaign soaked shoes. The launch was successful, so I bought a GT4 Clubsport factory race car.

Now, I’m close to turning 76, and I should finally have my competition license 60 years after it all started.

Chicane Racing Shoes

The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Gear: Striipe IROC Sock Collection Brings Vintage Cool Flavor

Striipe has captured the essence of vintage cool with its latest offering – the Striipe IROC sock collection. Inspired by the iconic racing series of…

August 03, 2023
Buyer’s Guide: Racing Suits

A racing suit’s primary purpose is fire protection. There has been a lot of effort in developing safer ways of storing and delivering fuel in race cars

October 24, 2022
The 10 Best Auto Racing Helmets

Whether you are road racing, doing a track day, running autocross, driving circle track or participating in High-Performance Driver Education, you need a helmet.

September 22, 2022
Pagani’s $75K Large Format Camera

The new Gibellini GP810HP will be limited to just 75 units, with the initial 30 cameras available exclusively to owners of Pagani cars.

September 16, 2022
Richard Mille’s $1.88 million Ferrari Watch

When Richard Mille unveiled its first piece with Ferrari at the automotive marque’s HQ in Maranello, Italy, on July 5, the audience was taken by…

September 16, 2022


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.