In 1938 a huge plot of land was bought in Sao Paulo by two local property developers who intended to build a large housing development. It soon became clear, however, that one part of the land was not suitable for housing and so they decided to build a racing circuit instead. Sao Paulo grew at an incredible speed though and soon the circuit was surrounded by houses.
When, in the 1970s, Emerson Fittipaldi began to have international success, the Brazilians started to want a Grand Prix. In 1971 and 1972 Interlagos hosted non-championship events but in 1973 the track staged its first championship Grand Prix. The track became a lucky charm for local racers, Fittipaldi, Carlos Pace and Carlos Reutemann all taking the spoils of victory in the 1970s. Interlagos was the scene of Pace’s first and only Formula One triumph, and following his death in a plane crash the circuit was renamed in his honour.
In 1978 the Grand Prix moved to Rio, but in 1979 Interlagos got its race back. By 1981, however, Rio had retaken the Grand Prix, Sao Paulo’s slums being at odds with the glamorous image Formula One wanted to portray. When a $15m redevelopment programme was agreed in the heyday of Ayrton Senna, a Sao Paulo local, the race finally switched back to Interlagos.
And there it has stayed. Since Senna’s death there has been no Brazilian world champion, but the passion of the Brazilian fans keeps the sport coming back every year.