Lola the Corolla: Quickest Four at Drag Challenge Weekend

Brodie Villis's CA18-powered KE55 Corolla takes home the Quickest Four Cylinder award at DCW 2022

Photographers: Shaun Tanner, Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic

In amongst the monster bent eights and force-fed sixes in the lanes at Drag Challenge Weekend Victoria 2022 was Brodie Villis’ little KE55 Corolla, holding its own with 2.0-litres of turbocharged Nissan fury.

This wasn’t Brodie’s first crack at a Drag Challenge event in LOLA 55, having successfully completed the 2017 five day marathon and taking out the Quickest Four Cylinder/Rotary award.

“I’ve owned the thing for around 15 years now, and when I got the car it was already engineered with the CA18 swap,” he said. “It was pretty basic though, still using the Nissan five-speed manual – which I broke plenty of – and the standard diff.”

The car was still rocking virtually the same setup at DCW 2022 that it was when we first saw it at the five day DC in 2017, which is just a tad more serious than what he first started out with the car all those years ago.

The 1.8-litre CA18 Nissan four pot is a factory turbo mill that was revamped by Jason Ghiller from Tunnel Vision Turbocharging. A Spool stroker kit with crank and rods was used to bump it up to 2.0-litres, with CP pistons. The head is still standard and has a pair of Tomei 260 Poncams, wearing a sexy CPC intake manifold.

“Keeping the CA was easy as the car’s already engineered with it, plus SRs sound like junk and are too expensive,” he laughs.

Force-feeding a massive 40psi is a Garrett GTX 35/76, and with a Haltech PS1000 ECU and E85. The car has made a best of 290rwkW through a Paul Rogers ‘glide on the rollers with wheelspin issues at Pro Flow Fab & Dyno.

Finishing off the driveline is a strengthened VL Borgwarner diff and four link, which sits underneath a decent tub job that was needed to fit the 255 drag radials.

“It’s progressed a lot since I got it, but it’s still my street car,” he said. “I take it down to the shops and stuff like that for something to do, it’s still good for all that stuff.”

Drag Challenge Weekend ’22 was a bit of a nightmare for Brodie all the way up until day three, with the Corolla struggling to put down a decent number on Day One and Two. “It just kept blowing ‘cooler pipes off,” he said. “It did it in the burnout a few times, and we spin the thing to 8000rpm so it was also an issue in the top end of the track as well.”

After not running a representative number for the first two days, Brodie finally found some luck late on the final day back at Heathcote to run a fresh new PB of 9.92 @137mph, to the big cheers of his family and friends.

“Before that it had run a best of 10.1, so to PB on the last day after those dramas was a sweet way to end the weekend,” he said.

Even though the dud times on the first two days did put a solid dent in his standing in the Haltech Radial Blown class, the 9.9 still won him some silverware as he took the Quickest Four Cylinder/Rotary award just like he did at DC ’17.

“I’ve gotta give a big thank you to my sister Mahra for coming along at the last minute, and to J.A.K Concrete Pumping for the support,” he said.

Next on Brodie’s list for the little ‘rolla is to fix the cooler piping issues and an engine management upgrade. “I’ll do something along the lines of some Plazmaman clamps for the ‘cooler piping, and a Haltech Elite because they’re so much more tuneable than the PS1000,” he said. “

Now the Corolla is a nine-second car, I’ll start looking at doing my HT ute as well, which’ll be getting a 355 Holden and may also end up at Drag Challenge one day.”