Like a lot of safety equipment, a driver’s window net is not something you ever want to use. If you do, you’re crashing violently and your arms are flailing all over the place, and that window net is the only thing keeping your extremities safely inside the vehicle, so they are not crushed by your rolling racecar. It doesn’t sound like fun. The issue with window nets is as much as they are designed to keep you in the car, they also need to be designed so you can get your butt out of the car, quickly. If you’re on fire, you don’t want the window net delaying your emergency egress. So, by design these nets are built to fall away when they are disengaged and also stay in place during a crash. That is a lot to ask of some nylon webbing and metal rods.
There are many ways to install window nets — some right, some wrong, and some difficult — and my team has used the gamut of them over the years. We have been frustrated by latch designs while doing enduro driver changes. We have nailed the perfect pit stop and then been delayed 20 seconds because of a faulty window net latch. One of the other things that aggravate me as a driver is when my window net falls down when it shouldn’t. A down window net can earn you a black flag. It’s hard to win a race when you have to pit to put your window net up. I also really hate it when I’m sitting on grid, strapped in, helmet on, and I realize my window net is down. That’s stressful. I have enough stuff to worry about when I’m sitting on grid. I don’t want to hassle with window net problems.
To combat the different issues we’ve encountered during years of racing, we came up with our own design for installing window nets using over-the-counter products, a quick trip to the hardware store, and some ingenuity. We like the swivel-mount design, where the trailing edge of the upper window net rod is on a pivot, but we don’t like the seatbelt latch design that has failed us repeatedly in the past. We found that the spring-actuated rod that goes between two tabs welded to the roll cage was the easiest to connect, but it isn’t setup for a swivel mount at the rear. We simply decided to combine the best parts of both systems into our own custom setup.
We started with an I/O Port Racing Supplies window net “angled” version with bottom straps. This net design takes up more of the open window space by having a triangular leading edge to keep your arms inside during a crash. The I/O Port net also has bottom straps that go directly to the door bars, which makes for ease of installation on the bottom side. To keep this net in place, we started with the Joes Racing Products spring-mounted window-net rod kit with a super cool red anodized aluminum handle. The handle is what really sold me on the part because it’s easy to see and easy to use while wearing driving gloves.
But we needed to change the rear mounting portion of the Joes Racing Products upper rod to be a swivel instead of a fixed mount. We took one of the weld-on tabs that came with the kit and ground it down to weld on a flat piece of metal, which would be the base of our swivel. Then we sourced a collar from the lower rod from the Joes Racing Products kit and drilled out the diameter of the collar so it would fit on the upper rod and hold our modified tab in place because we wanted the rear of the rod to stay fixed to the swivel mount. We welded that tab to a piece of flat metal we got from the hardware store, which we drilled a hole into to accommodate the axle of our swivel mount. Our axle was created out of a bolt with the head cut off welded to a tab on the upper portion of the rollcage near the driver side B-pillar. We attached the rear of the window net top rod onto our axle with some plastic bushings — so the net would hold in place solidly, but still swivel — a lock nut, and a Nylock nut. This setup allows the net assembly to swivel up and down. For the leading edge of the upper rod we welded the tab that came with the Joes Racing Products kit to the upper portion of the roll cage as it was originally intended. To get the window net to engage into its holder, simply pull back on the red handle, depressing the plunger spring at the rear of the net at the swivel and then pop the leading edge into the tab welded at the top of the cage. Simple as that.
This system is easy to use to put the window net up, even when strapped into the car while wearing a HANS device, and more importantly, very easy to use to get the window net down when you want to exit the car quickly. Hopefully, I’ll never have to use it in that manner.
To read more from Rob Krider or to contact him go to www.robkrider.com.