Driver of the year Dale Earnhardt of Kannapolis, N.C., champion of the NASCAR Winston Cup stock car series, heads a list of 12 drivers named to the 18th annual Auto Racing All-America team.
Earnhardt was one of three stock car drivers named. The others are Bill Elliott of Dawsonville, Ga., runner-up to Earnhardt in the Winston Cup standings, and Butch Miller of Lawton, Mich., champion of both the American Speed Assn. and the Stock Car Connection series, which run primarily in the Midwest.
Al Unser of Albuquerque, N.M., who won the Indianapolis 500 for the fourth time while driving as a last-minute substitute on Roger Penske's team, was an Indy car selectee along with Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion Bobby Rahal of Dublin, Ohio.
Unser was a member of the inaugural AARWBA All-America team in 1970, the year he won his first Indianapolis 500. In addition to winning the 500 as a replacement for the injured Danny Ongais, Unser finished second in the Michigan 500 to win the Indy-car Triple Crown for 500-mile races.
Other selections include World of Outlaws sprint car champion Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind.; International Motor Sports Assn. sports car champions Chip Robinson of Oldwick, N.J., and Chris Cord of Beverly Hills; Trans-Am champion Scott Pruett of Roseville, Calif.; drag racing champions Bob Glidden of Whiteland, Ind., and Kenny Bernstein of Newport Beach; and Sports Car Club of America rally champion John Buffum of South Burlington, Vt.
Selections were made by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Assn.
The 12 will be honored at the AARWBA's annual All-American banquet Jan. 9 in the Spruce Goose Pavilion, adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Tickets will be available to the public.
The driver who received the most votes will receive the Jerry Titus Award, representative of the AARWBA's driver of the year. The winner will be revealed at the banquet.
Earnhardt, Rahal, Kinser, Pruett and Bernstein were repeat choices from the 1986 team.
Cord, like Unser, was a substitute driver when the season started, but he moved into the No. 1 spot on Dan Gurney's Camel GTO team when Dennis Aase was injured during a Toyota test program.
RALLY--Malcolm Smith, arguably the greatest off-road racer in history, will tackle the Paris to Dakar Rally, an 8,000-mile run across the Sahara Desert that will start Jan. 1 and last 22 days. Smith, winner of the Baja 1,000 on both a motorcycle and a single-seat buggy, will drive a prototype Range Rover with Formula One driver Patrick Tambay and former Paris-Dakar winner Patrick Zaniroli, both of France. Of 500 entries, fewer than 100 are expected to reach Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on Africa's west coast.
SPORTS CARS--The 1988 Mexican Grand Prix, scheduled for June 5 in Mexico City, has been canceled by the organizing committee because of the nation's poor economic conditions. . . . Mario Andretti, who recently turned down Porsche's offer to drive their new Indy car, will drive a Porsche 962C in an all-family team at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Andretti will be joined by his sons, Michael and Jeff, for the June 11-12 race in France. . . . Geoff Brabham, who had been rumored as a potential Porsche Indy car driver after Andretti's decision to stay with the Paul Newman-Carl Haas CART team, has instead signed with Nissan to drive a GTP car in the IMSA series. . . . Tom Kendall of La Canada and Max Jones of Long Beach, who won the Firestone Firehawk endurance championship together in a Nissan 300ZX two years ago, will be teammates again in 1988 in a pair of Chevrolet Berettas in IMSA's Camel GTU class. Kendall has won the last two GTU championships in a Mazda RX-7.
OFF ROAD--Rob MacCachren, a valet parking attendant from Las Vegas when he isn't racing, has been named driver of the year in the High Desert Racing Assn./SCORE International series. MacCachren, 22, was the overall winner in 3 of 8 races in his unlimited single-seat Chenowth. Rob Gordon, 18, of Orange, was named rookie of the year after winning three two-seater races while driving with his father, Bob. . . . Jim Short of On Track magazine and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, was named journalist of the year.
INDY CARS--Former driver and current car owner Dick Simon of Capistrano Beach has been elected to the CART board of directors. He succeeds Dan Gurney, who resigned. . . . John Andretti, Mario's nephew and Michael's cousin, has signed to drive the full CART season in Mike Curb's Skoal Bandit Lola.
MOTOCROSS--The Continental Moto- sport Club's 12th annual Dodge Truck Golden State Nationals will start Jan. 2-3 at Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino with sportsman competition on Saturday and professionals on Sunday. The series, which started in 1977 with $12,000 in prizes, will offer more than $600,000 for the eight races this year.
DRAG RACING--As expected, new owner Billy Meyer has moved the International Hot Rod Assn. headquarters to Waco, Tex., his hometown. For the last 17 years, the IHRA operated from Bristol, Tenn., home of founder Larry Carrier. Meyer, 33, who won the National Hot Rod Assn. World Finals funny car championship at Pomona, purchased the IHRA sanctioning body last month.
NECROLOGY--Clint Brawner, 71, the second-winningest chief mechanic in Indy car history, died Wednesday in Phoenix after a 10-year fight with cancer. Brawner's cars won 39 Indy car races, including twice at the Indianapolis 500, in 1955 with Jimmy Bryan and 1969 with Mario Andretti. Only George Bignotti, with 84 wins, has more Indy car wins than Brawner.