A contemporary and bitter rival of fellow countryman Nelson Piquet, Serra enjoyed an outstanding Formula Ford season in 1977, winning the Townsend Thoresen FF1600 championship, before stepping into Formula 5 with the Ron Dennis-run Project Four March. It was a strong year, with Piquet and Warwick among the opposition, but Chico was unflustered, escaping a huge accident at Mallory Park to finish third in the Vandervell series and joint second with Warwick in the BP championship. Back in Formula 3 in 1979, Serra made no mistake, winning the 20-round Vandervell championship, taking five victories and seven second places, and putting his Project Four March on the front row no fewer than 16 times. Moving into Formula 2 along with the team, Chico found the going tough, being very much the number two driver to Andrea de Cesaris. Joining Emerson Fittipaldi to race his fading team's cars in Grands Prix, Serra again struggled, but when he managed to get the car onto the grid he more often than not brought it home to the finish, gaining his only championship point at Zolder in 1982. After the team closed its doors, Serra briefly raced the Arrows while Alan Jones prevaricated over the prospect of a GP comeback with the team, before losing out to Thierry Boutsen. A dispirited Serra returned to his homeland, no doubt ruefully watching Piquet's latest successes. He didn't turn his back on the sport, however, and continues to race saloons to this day in his native Brazil.