Today we celebrate the birthday of former Grand Prix driver Chico Serra, who is turning 55 today! Serra contested a total of 33 Grands Prix for the Fittipaldi and Arrows outfits between 1981 and 1983, earning one championship point.
Born Francisco Adolpho Serra in Sao Paulo, ‘Chico’ started off in karting and followed the well-worn path of aspirant Brazilian racers by moving to Europe in the 1970s.
Inspired his hero Emerson Fittipaldi, the well-funded Serra won the British Formula Ford Festival at the wheel of a then-emerging Van Diemen, before his success saw him move to Ron Dennis’ Project 4 British F3 team in 1978. He won several races that season and was in the hunt for the title, but he suffered concussion with a huge accident at Mallory Park, losing out in both F3 championships to Nelson Piquet and Derek Warwick.
Staying on in the series in 1979, he won the title with five wins, and graduated to Formula 2 with Project 4, finishing tenth in the European championship at the wheel of a March BMW.
Instead of staying on in F2 for another season, he moved up into F1 at – coincidentally – the Fittipaldi team, replacing his childhood hero and partnering Keke Rosberg for the 1981 season. His debut race saw him finish in seventh, but the uncompetitiveness of the car also meant he failed to qualify on eight occasions that year.
Staying on for the 1982 season, the team downscaled to a single-car entry. Serra took his sole points’ finish at Belgium in the updated F8 chassis and later had a punch-up with compatriot Raul Boesel in Canada (the two have long since kissed and made up).
The arrival of the new F9 chassis proved to be the death knell for the team when he failed to make the grid for three of its six appearances. The outfit closed its doors at the end of the season, and Serra returned to Brazil.
He managed to buy a few drives with Arrows in 1983, but when Thierry Boutsen arrived with more money, Serra was dropped and his F1 career was over.
He returned to his homeland and began racing in the domestic touring car scene, where he has achieved great success – he is a three-time winner of Brazil’s National Stock Car Championship.