Mr. Brendan Garcia; founder of United Bearings, has always had a passion for automotive racing. In 1994, Mr. Garcia along with his son, Ryan Garcia, undertook a tremendous project in building a drag racing door-slammer. At that time, the GSR Lancer was a popular car in Trinidad, but a slow one; and 4 cylinder engines were virtually unheard of in drag racing. So in an attempt to be as original and attention grabbing as possible, it was decided that they would locally build and prepare a turbocharged 4 Cylinder engine, in the body of a 1985 Mitsubishi Box Lancer GSR shell.
On behalf of United Bearings, Mr. Garcia negotiated with SKF to assist with funding, and recruited a team to help build the project. His son, Ryan Garcia was designated to pilot the vehicle. It took the United Bearings Race Team almost two years of hard work, grit and determination and in 1996, the “SKF Lancer” was born. On its debut outing, the Lancer turned heads and demanded respect amongst Trinidad’s local drag racing circuit. The car dominated the local drag race arena by consistently breaking local records and winning events, and by the year 2000, the United Bearings Race Team had won the local Open Class Category and ousted all of the big V8 Dragsters for the fastest time of the year.
In 2001, inspired by the overwhelming success, the car was transported to the United States, and there the team competed on an international level, and again impressed all with whom they met. With the odds stacked against them, the United Bearings Race Team created quite a stir, earning 4th place in their debut race in West Palm Beach, Florida in August 2001.
Although the team initially had positive results, the Lancer had to be modified to pass technical inspection across the various sanctioning race bodies. With these changes, the team seemed plagued with reliability issues but returned to West Palm Beach for the next race, and managed to place 2nd overall. However, both Ryan and his father recognized that to remain competitive and reliable for future international events, the car had to be further upgraded. The biggest obstacle was that due to the design of the car’s full tubular chassis, it was classed a “Pro Import” competitor (fastest category), disregarding the fact that the car was 400lbs heavier than class weight and the other class competitors were using methanol powered V6 & V8 combinations, while the United Bearings race car was running a gasoline powered 4 cylinder engine.
At that time, there were not many parts available for the 4G63 engine, and therefore most parts had to be engineered and fabricated all the while working on a shoe string budget. A major part of the car’s upgrade, was the installation of a research and development programme.
It took approximately eight months before the United Bearings Race Team was able to return to the circuit at an event in Bradenton, Florida. Unfortunately, the team encountered numerous electrical difficulties and this sent them back to the drawing board. The electrical faults were rectified in time for the next race in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the team earned their first win, dominating the entire event.
The team’s next event was in Englishtown, New Jersey, where the car would face many of the world’s fastest imports. On the first day of qualifying, the United Bearings Race Team was off to a rough start, however their perseverance prevailed, and in their last qualifying run not only did they qualify amongst the fastest qualifying ladder in the history of sport compact racing, but they also managed to break a World Record for The Fastest 4G63 Engine!
Following their triumph at Englishtown, the team took 2nd place in the pro category at an event at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. Next, the team headed to Los Angeles, California for the IDRC International Final. Although considered the dark horse of the event, the team was once again able to capture the coveted spot of 1st overall.
With little time to celebrate, the team was off to their next event back in West Palm Beach ,Florida, where their winning streak continued and the United Bearings Race Team once again dominated the event. However, by the end of 2002, a decision was made to retire the car on a high note. Ryan was moving back to Trinidad to work in the family business while most of the team’s competitors were building faster, lighter cars for the 2003 season.
In March 2003 the Lancer returned to Trinidad where it participated in several events and exhibits. The United Bearings Race Team once again dominated the local arena, and in December 2015 it was announced that this historic car would begin upgrades to a more current configuration. Thus, “The United Bearings Lancer” will be debuting in the local arena in the near future. We look forward to what the dynamic and experienced United Bearings Race Team will bring to the future of local drag racing in Trinidad.