The Racing Shoe Specialist 2)

The Racing Shoe Specialist (2)

◁ Previously: Click here for the story (1)

Now, back to motorsports (shoes). The chukka-boot racing shoes shown at the bottom of the right-hand page appeared in a British car magazine advertisement in March 1965. They had two pairs of distinctive eyelets and a thin leather sole. And the 'Westover heel', a mortar-cut shape, must be exactly the shoes in the photo worn by Jim Clark.

 The advertisement mentions the brand name WESTOVER DRIVING SHOES and the name G.P. BOOTS. The text states that Westover is a top quality racing boot and is worn by most top drivers, including two world champions..., suggesting that G.P. BOOTS had already been employed in Grand Prix racing at the time of this advertisement. The manufacturing address is given as Northampton, the holy land of British footwear, but what kind of company is the Westover Driving Shoe Company?


©︎Motor Sport Magazine | September 1963

Westover Driving Shoes

While trawling through back issues of the historic British monthly Motor Sports magazine, I came across a record of the first advertisement from Westover in the September 1963 issue. The shoes did not have the appearance of racing shoes, but rather a slender slip-on driving shoe with a rolled up heel in bendskin leather. From this we can see that Westover was already active as a driving shoe brand at least as early as 1963. And this advertisement was the first 'driving shoes', regardless of brand or design, to appear in Motor Sports magazine. Later, several brands such as Les Leston and Ogden Smith, both well-known car accessory shops, were recorded as launching driving shoes, but Westover must have been the very 'pioneer' of the driving shoe brand. "The Westover Company must have been the very 'pioneer' of driving shoe brands.

From there, reading Motor Sports magazine again in line with the times, Westover introduced a suede driving shoe called the TOURER in an advertisement in the Christmas 1965 issue. In contrast to the G.P. BOOTS, which were made of soft type black calf, the TOURER had a narrower, slightly more casual design around the mouth, with a brown suede upper and a combination saddle leather heel. The heel was finished in a wrap-round shape for easy pivoting. The product was advertised in the magazine on a monthly basis through 1967, and it is also mentioned that there was a dedicated made-to-order service and a women's size range.


G.P. BOOTS seen on the circuit

If you follow the footsteps of the F1 Grand Prix in the 1960s, you will indeed see many Westover racing shoes. Among them, the 1960 champion Jim Clark and the 1961 champion Graham Hill can be seen always wearing WESTOVER shoes on the circuit.

24 September 1963 ©︎PA IMAGES | Alamy

This is Jim Clark sitting on the tyres of a Lotus F1, taken on 24 September 1963. There were few captions given for the photo, but based on the TEAM LOTUS logo and the time period, it is likely to be a Lotus 25 with a Coventry Climax engine. Jim Clark's Team Lotus won its first race that year in dominant fashion. This is a very rare photo showing the detail of the shoes in colour, which means that G.P. BOOTS already existed in 1963.

Goodwood Sunday Mirror Trophy Race. 15th April 1966. ©︎Trinity Mirror | Alamy

Graham Hill looks dignified with his feet on the tyres, a scene from the Goodwood circuit in April 1966, where the toes of his G.P. BOOTS show the rough scratches he must have scratched with his pedals during the race. A very simple and beautiful style never seen today.

French Grand Prix, Rouen, 1968 24 September ©︎Heritage Image Partnership Ltd | Alamy

Graham Hill looks on mystified as the mechanics work on a car at the Circuit de Rouen-Leses Salle in September 1968, the site of the French Grand Prix. That year Lotus was known to be the first to bring 'full sponsorship' of a company to Formula One. Graham entered a Lotus 49B in Imperial Tobbaco's gold leaf livery, but unfortunately had to retire from the race.

 Click here for the rest of the story (3).
Text: Shuhei Miyabe | NEGRONI
Cover Photo : Shuhei Miyabe ©︎Motor Sport Magazine | March 1965