The Racing Shoe Specialist 3)

The Racing Shoe Specialist 3)

◁ To To To Previous Episode ② Click here

In the late 1960s, the Westover company, which dominated the feet of top racers, was owned by Edward Lewis, who described himself in a 1965 advertisement as a 'racing shoe specialist', He must have had great confidence in his products and brand power.  So what kind of a man was Edward Lewis?

Who was Edward Lewis?

Unfortunately, little has survived about Edward Lewis as a shoe designer other than advertisements and a few photographs, but on the other hand, there are a few, but quite interesting, records of him as 'car racer Edward Lewis'. Edward Lewis was born in Northampton in 1922, the son of a shoe factory owner. He was recorded as taking part in various categories of car racing while running his own Westover Driving Shoe business.

Edward Lewis racing a Riley 1.5 (left, 870 FPA)
14 April 1962 ©︎George Phillips Photograph Collection | Revs Institute

Historic Automobile Clubs in England British Racing Driver's Clubrecords that Edward was a member of the1950in the According to records from the British Racing Driver's Club, a historic British car club, Edward started racing for Riley in the 1950s. Riley was a British car manufacturer that grew up in the field of engine development in the early 1900s and specialised in the production of relatively inexpensive sports saloons. In particular, between 1960 and 1964, together with Donald “Don" Moore, a master engine builder for Lister Jaguar, they competed in the British Saloon Car Championship (now the BTCC) with a Riley 1.5, Austin A40 and Austin Mini Seven.

The regulations were quite chaotic at the time, with cars classified by displacement running together and all classes competing for a single championship with points awarded for each class, but it was a very busy race with Graham Hill, then F1 racer Dan Gurney, Roy Salvadori, and later McLaren founder Bruce McLaren all competing in the same race in different classes, Graham Hill, then F1 racer Dan Gurney, Roy Salvadori and future McLaren founder Bruce McLaren also raced in the same race in Jaguar Mk2s in different classes, so you can imagine it was a very lively race.

It is also very interesting to note that another racer, Les Leston Les Leston, who also had a business in London selling racing equipment, shoes and accessories, also entered a Volvo 122S in this race.

Edward was also a life member of the BRDC (British Racing Driver's Club) for his many racing achievements and, surprisingly, was very closely associated with Colin Chapman, the famous founder of Lotus Engineering. 

Edward Lewis was also involved in the story of the birth of the Lotus Seven, which still shines as a timeless classic. The story continues in the Negroni Journal that follows.

And Edward Lewis was also involved in the story of the birth of the Lotus Seven, which still shines as a timeless classic. You will find that story in the Negroni Journal 'Colin Chapman and Edward Lewis Special' that follows.

©︎Motor Sports Magazine | December 1970

Chasing the image of racing shoes

The Westover Driving Shoes advertisements, which used to appear in every issue of Motorsports magazine, were last seen in the Christmas 1969 issue. In fact, even equipment-related adverts such as helmets and gloves, which were common in the 1960s, seemed to have replaced car and parts adverts as the 1970s progressed. Was this a trend of the times, as the public's car culture matured? Or was it simply Edward Lewis's management policy? 

After Team Lotus adopted the concept of 'advertising' in 1968, racers' clothes and body-colours were successively dyed in the colours of their sponsors, which may have influenced the demand for rugged footwear and clothing in the early days of racing, such as G.P. BOOTS. The possibility that this may have influenced the demand for rugged footwear and clothing at the dawn of racing, such as the Or perhaps Jackie Stewart's lifelong push for 'greater safety in racing' gradually changed the concept of clothing.

Graham Hill With Neil Ewart with a Foreword by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales 1977

Although WESTOVER and G.P. BOOTS had disappeared from the media advertising section and information about them had been lost, in the 1970s they introduced high-top sneakers that graced the feet of many racers.  In 'GRAHAM' by Neil Ewart, there is a photograph of a young King Charles in his racing suit, wearing matching Westover racing shoes. The then King  also contributed the foreword to the book. This picture, which symbolises the depth of the British Royal Family's love for automotive culture, is a sight to be envied by car-loving people from other countries.

 ©︎Wikimedia commons | Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

And the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, a museum documenting shoes in Edward Lewis' birthplace of Northampton, has a pair of racing shoes allegedly worn by Emerson Fittipaldi in races between 1979 and 1980. The high-tops, in blue fabric and navy smooth leather guards, have a wonderful design that gives the impression of being the origin of the racing shoe. The grazed Edward LEWIS WESTOVER engraving at the ankle is a taste of the era.

Unfortunately, Edward Lewis is said to have passed away in 2015 and I was unable to hear directly from him, but his contribution to racing culture is immeasurable and I have great respect for him. I will continue to follow in his footsteps over the years to come.

Text: Shuhei Miyabe | NEGRONI
Cover Photo: Shuhei Miyabe1957 Lotus Seven, Edward Lewis Brighton Speed Trials
©︎Heritage Image Partnership Ltd Alamy