Quite possibly one of the worst off-road crashes Johnny Greeves 2009 crash at Crandon is a prime example of what a window net should do. Preserved as a tool for education Curtise Guise has made this film clip available to Ultra4 racers by request. Curtis was able to access the CORR TV achieves to make this clip available to us in the name of safety education.
Please let this be a subtle reminder of the level of perfection we require of our safety gear in a time of need.
In the 2010 King of the Hammers Anarchy Movie, Dean “the Iceman” Bulloch and Tom Allen are seen from an in-car camera as they are ragged dolled inside the cockpit of an Ultra4 car during a high speed roll over. Dean has a long standing relationship with Mastercraft that affords him the knowledge to outfit his race vehicle with the best in safety gear. That safety gear can clearly be seen doing its job.
Section 19.22 – 19.28 of the current Hammerking Rulebook for Ultra4 races covers window net safety but we have continued to see window nets that just barely pass tech. PRP seats will make any shape or size window net if you send them a paper template. The custom design cost very little extra and will afford a completely covered window area. Mounting the window nets is an area in which we see some room for improvement. Following Robbie Pierce’s crash at Glen Helen, Pierce identified the need for improvement in the latch and link style mount on window nets. I personally have seen the seatbelt latch style window net mount become inoperable due to dirt and debris. That leaves a spring style latch which in itself posses the potential for failure in a high speed crash or when an Ultra4 vehicle is laid into the rocks.
Can you quickly exit the vehicle with full gear on in the event of a fire? Can you reach the latch? Can you operate it with gloves on? Does it go back up easily, and can your navigator install or remove his window net with the same degree of skill? Will your window net design keep you out of harms way?
While I am unable to clearly define a latch system that can be a suitable replacement, I do believe that Ultra4 racers are by nature able to engineer a system that will find our unique style of racing a suitable latching system. This is evident in JT Taylor’s “outside the box” approach to framing his window net, and using a latching system similar to a Bestop Jeep replacement door. His window net can be quickly removed and store to prevent un-needed wear and tear, and with a full frame, the window net is supported at all 4 corners. Going into the 2011 Ultra4 tour I think safety should be a top consideration. Ideas should be shared between racers when it comes to safety and we should all move together to ensure the safety of our racers.