Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Need a New Pair of Shoes

This post will explore an excellent, favorite, and eternal question: Is it possible to take part in a Porsche road rally, remain competitive in it, and still find time (somewhere along the rally route) to shop for a new pair of shoes? That question came up during the recent rally I drove, when the accidental cellphone photo seen here - taken by my navigator while trying to view the phone's on-screen controls in bright sunlight, which causes many accidental photos like this - presented three feet, shod in less than splendid, more or less functional ordinary shoes, certainly not proper driving moccasins. In a Porsche, in a sanctioned Porsche Club of America rally, you need legitimate driving shoes, or at least reasonable facsimiles that look the part.

Suddenly we discovered that our shoes were too gauche.
I am not Imelda Marcos. According to some reports she had 7,500 pairs of shoes when she and Ferdinand were kicked out of the Philippines due to the massive corruption of the Marcos regime, but later Time Magazine set the final count at only 1,060 pairs abandoned then, plus 1,000 purses and similar quantities of other haute couture artifacts. I just need one pair of shoes that are dedicated to my Porsche so that the fashionistas don't point at my ancient brogues any more and giggle.

A new blue beauty. It didn't participate in the rally.
For me, with ordinary size 11 feet (45), proper driving shoes (in an old 911) are those that actually fit onto the pedals without getting tangled up in the wiring and sundry controls found under the dashboard. More than once I have had a white-knuckle experience when I couldn't extract my feet fast enough to get them onto the clutch and brake in an over-heated driving moment without undoing several of those wires and my shoelaces in the bargain. I survived those episodes, but my substandard fashion statement drives me to look at new shoes, rather than my need to continue to exist. There is nothing rational about this.

It's not easy finding suitable driving shoes. I mentioned moccasins above, but most of those are fashion above function, but then there are dedicated competition driving shoes that are fireproof, etc., and beyond my needs as a casual, scoot-around driver. So, 'driving' moccasins paired with casual slacks, or over-the-ankle, SFI 3.3/5 specification competition boots along with a full Nomex fireproof suit; there's your choice. There is little in between, at least in my search so far.

Maybe it was more than the inadvertent shoe photo, shown above, that got me thinking about both style and function. At the rally staging area I witnessed a 'look' beyond any pretense of actual purpose aside from styling, but I also saw raw purpose there that really looked gorgeous, however, in this case I'm not talking about shoes, but cars. Well, it was a rally and a Concours d'Elegance, so my shoes really didn't have much import at the time; I could have gone barefoot and nothing would have come to a grinding halt, except that I would have gotten my feet cold and muddy.

An example of the gorgeous is found in this car. Function and form, elegantly done in grey.
There is one thing that I have learned in my limited rally experience. Before the start everyone is told that this is not a speed contest. We are not to break any speed limit, ever, along the course of the rally route. We will obey all other traffic laws, and so forth. This means that no one should ever finish the rally early, because that would mean that they drove too fast somewhere along the prescribed route. This is not the World Rally Championship, after all.

A tuner car. Meh. What function? Plastic stylin' kit.
Bunk. People who arrive too soon, but are close to the correct time, do win prizes. In order to get close to the proper elapsed time, you not only can make no errors of navigation, but you must also make up for all the time you lose in traffic, at stop signs, waiting for school buses, or buying shoes. Which is to say that the winners drive like mad and everybody winks at the award ceremony. In a past rally, I have had another competitor blast past me going 85 (near 140 kph) in a 65 (105 kph) zone. That guy won. So much for precision average driving times.

So, next time I will put my foot to the floor and ignore boring speed limits, have time to buy some shoes, and win the rally. I won't tell you what country I plan to do this in, however. Oh, and the shoes I'm considering are made of bison hide - they will fit the bill, I think. Ironic. Well, this whole post is silly - or is it? The subtexts aren't terribly complex.

Now this is sweet, and it's the real thing. I like grey cars, most of the time.

How did we do in the Rally? We missed a turn, and although we tried to make up for it, we still came in over 4 minutes late because of not driving aggressively enough; but it was almost a podium finish. This doesn't mean that speeding was truly called for, but harder acceleration would help, along with heavier deceleration, and some luck with traffic, school buses, and very fast shoe shopping - too bad we didn't actually see a shoe store. . .

Would these do?