Stocks and shares

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In the beginning…
There have been a number of significant years in Brazilian motorsport – most of them to do with Ayrton Senna da Silva – but one of the most important was 1979. That year, the Brazilian Grand Prix returned to the old Interlagos after a year in Jacarepagua and, as was often the case, opened the season (very early as it happened, on February 4). The winner was Jacques Laffite in the ground effect Ligier, which enjoyed such a margin of technical superiority that he and team mate Patrick Depailler finished around 50 seconds ahead of the third-placed man. But this is not a story about Formula 1.

Brazil’s answer to NASCAR
There was a need for a more grass roots level of motorsport in Brazil to support the burgeoning domestic car market, so in 1979 the Brazilian stock car championship was also created, with its first race two months after the Brazilian Grand Prix. It was called stock car in order to link it with NASCAR in the United States, which was seen as a template for what saloon car racing should be all about: power, noise, spectacle, and huge numbers of fans. A simple, inexpensive set of regulations ensured that the competition was close with 19 six-cylinder Chevrolet Opalas forming the grid for the first race, at the Taruma circuit.
The series was an instant success, and as the years went on it even expanded to Europe: in 1982 two races were held at Estoril. Part of the appeal of the championship was that it was fan-friendly: so fan-friendly in fact that in 1994, the promoters decided to make all the tickets free. That’s certainly not on the current agenda for Formula 1…despite the many far-reaching changes that new owners Liberty Media have introduced.

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The new millennium
But it was in the 2000s that the real revolution came. A tubular spaceframe was adopted, which allowed plenty of manufacturers to get involved at minimal cost, such as Peugeot, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi, as well as the traditional American manufacturers like Chevrolet. Grids of more than 30 drivers were common, and a similar points system to NASCAR was adopted, bringing the two championships closer together. There was also a healthy bill of support races, notably the single-seater Formula Chevrolet, which helped to provide a structure to the whole show. These days, there are also a raft of features that mix up the 22-race show: reversed grid races, wild card entries, double points races and the winner-takes-all 1 million Real race: the largest cash prize handed out in South American motorsport (equivalent to around 277,000 Euro).
 Most importantly, the principle of close competition has always been maintained. At one of the most recent races, there were 22 cars classified within one second in the first free practice session.
As a result of its popularity, three former F1 drivers currently compete in the V8-engined series: Luciano Burti, Antonio Pizzonia, Riccardo Zonta and Rubens Barrichello. Previously though, there were many more: Ingo Hoffman, Raul Boesel, Chico Serra, Tarso Marques, Roberto Moreno, Jacques Villenueve, Alex Ribeiro, Wilson Fittipaldi, Christian Fittipaldi, Enrique Bernoldi, Esteban Tuero, Luiz Bueno – and Bruno Senna. Well, you can’t have a motorsport championship in Brazil without a Senna.

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Keeping the cars on track
The other indispensable ingredient to Stock Car Brasil is a Pirelli tyre. Pirelli has been exclusive supplier to the championship since 2013, providing the famous P Zero slick tyre as well as the Cinturato for wet conditions. Both these tyres are designed in Italy and produced at Izmit in Turkey, just as is the case for the tyres seen in Formula 1.
The relationship between Pirelli and Stock Car is much older though: the Italian tyres were first seen on the championship in 1979, remaining until 2008, before the relationship was re-established four years ago. With Brazil being one of Pirelli’s most important worldwide markets, accounting for close to 50% of all new tyre sales across the country, it was a natural fit. 

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