The Scottish former racing driver Allan McNish is one of the most successful endurance drivers of the 21st century and one of the best ever racing drivers from Scotland. He competed fourteen times at 24 hours of Le Mans, finishing on podiums nine times, including three overall victories in 1998, 2008, and 2013. McNish was the partner of the Le Mans record-holder Tom Kristensen, competing eight times with him at Circuit de la Sarthe, scoring four podiums and two wins.
Except at Le Mans, McNish was successful in the sports car races all around the world, becoming the 2013 FIA World Endurance Champion, three-time American Le Mans Series champion and four-time winner of Sebring 12h. McNish competed also with open-wheelers and touring cars, recording four seasons in the Formula 3000, one season in the DTM, and one season in the Formula One, driving for Toyota in 2002.
McNish was awarded for early success in karting races
Allan McNish was born on December 24, 1969, in Dumfries, Scotland. After a successful karting career, reaching the 3rd place in the 1985 World Junior Championship, one place behind Michael Schumacher, McNish switched to bigger cars in 1987, together with fellow countryman David Coulthard. Both were awarded as McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Drivers of the Year.
Allan's first competition was the Formula Ford in 1987 after which he had won his first title in the 1988 Formula Vauxhall Lotus. He won the title ahead of Dragon Motorsport teammate Mika Hakkinen. In the European championship of the Formula Opel, Hakkinen was the winner and McNish finished third. McNich and Hakkinen were not only teammates, they were living together in that period of their career.
Losing Formula 3 Championship by three points
For the 1989 season, McNish joined West Surrey Racing to compete in the British Formula 3 Championship. After five wins in 14 races, he lost the championship title by three points, finishing behind David Brabham.
McNish debuted in the Formula 3000 International at the last round of the 1989 season and entered the full season in 1990, driving for DAMS. The season started with a tragedy at Donington Park, where McNish had an accident in which one spectator was killed. In the second round, at Silverstone, McNish scored his first F3000 victory. He added one more win at Brands Hatch and finished fourth in the points.
Video : The unfortunate accident at the Donington Park, 1990
From F3000 to F1 and back
McNish spent one more season with DAMS in the Formula 3000, finishing 16th in the points at the end of the 1991 season. In 1992, his team was the 3001 International and he finished 11th in the points. Whilst competing in the F3000, he tested F1 cars both with Benetton and McLaren. During 1993 and 1994, he didn't participate in races, focusing only on testing duties with Benetton F1 team.
As his career wasn't moving up, McNish returned to F3000 in 1995, driving for Paul Stewart Racing and finishing seventh in the points. After spending one more season with Benetton as a test driver, McNish decided to make a switch in 1997, entering sports car races with Porsche 911 GT1.
McNish switched to sports car racing in 1997
In 1997, McNish had participated in three races of the FIA GT Championship, driving for Porsche factory team. His best result was third place at Laguna Seca. He was much more successful in the IMSA GTS championship, scoring three wins in the Rohr Motorsport's Porsche, together with Andy Pilgrim.
Sensational 1998 Le Mans results with Porsche 911 GT1
In 1998, McNish started the season with his debut at Daytona 24-hour race, sharing the #01 Rohr Motorsport's Porsche 911 GT1 with Danny Sullivan, Jorg Muller, Dirk Muller, and Uwe Alzen. The five-men crew finished second overall and first in GT1 class. During 1998, McNish was Porsche's full-time driver in the FIA GT Championship and he finished fifth in the points, with six podiums in ten races. He was sharing the car with Yannick Dalmas.
At 1998 24 hours of Le Mans, McNish, Laurent Aiello, and Stephane Ortelli were in the #26 Porsche 911 GT1 and they won the race with a one-lap advantage over Porsche AG's sister car #25. It was the last Le Mans race for Porsche before brand's return in 2014.
Second at Daytona, Le Mans with Toyota
In January 1999, McNish returned to Daytona and scored one more second-place finish. He was driving Doyle-Risi Racing's #7 Ferrari 333 SP together with Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor, and Didier de Radigues.
Back in Europe, McNish participated at the 1999 Le Mans with Toyota Motorsports, driving the #2 Toyota GT-One. His co-drivers were Thierry Boutsen and Ralf Kelleners. They didn't finish the race as Boutsen had a high-speed crash during his night stint, about 2am.
For the rest of the season, McNish had joined Champion Racing in the American Le Mans Series, driving the #38 Porsche 911 GT1 Evo in six races, but without notable results.
2000 - first Le Mans podium with Audi
The season of 2000 started with Daytona 24h participation, but the #12 Risi Competizione's Ferrari 333 SP, which McNish was driving, didn't reach the finish. It was Allan's one-off appearance with Ferrari, as he joined Audi for the rest of the season.
Driving the #77 Audi R8R for Audi Sport North America, McNish clinched his first championship title in the American Le Mans Series. He scored six wins in 12 races. As he drove with different co-drivers, he was the sole winner of the 2000 ALMS title.
At the 2000 Le Mans, McNish had the same partners as two years before in the race-winning Porsche – Laurent Aiello, and Stephane Ortelli. This time, the trio finished second overall in the #9 Audi R8, behind #8 car driven by Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela, and Emanuele Pirro.
Formula One debut in 2002 with Toyota
In 2001, a newly crowned ALMS champion was invited to join the newly formed Toyota F1 team as a development and test driver. After he had spent a year testing cars, McNish finally debuted in Formula One in the 2002 season, at the age 32.
He debuted at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, crashing out with #25 Toyota TF102 in the first corner of the opening lap, as one of eight drivers who were eliminated in that crash. McNish finished 7th in the next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit. It remained his career-best result in Formula One. He missed the last round of the championship, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, after he had crashed during the qualifying session and wasn't fit to start the race. With no points scored, he was classified 19th at the end of his only Formula One season.
2004 - first Sebring 12h victory
After two years in Formula One, McNish returned to sports car racing in 2004. He had a victorious come-back, taking his first victory at 12 hours of Sebring. He was a member of the Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx crew in the #28 Audi R8, together with Frank Biela and Pierre Kaffer.
Later in the season, McNish competed in four races of the Le Mans Endurance Series and returned to Circuit de la Sarthe. The trio McNish/Biela/Kaffer finished fifth overall in the 2004 Le Mans race.
One season in DTM with Audi
In 2005, McNish's main competition was DTM. He was driving the #6 Audi A4 for Abt Sportsline, finishing best in the 4th place at Norisring. In the final standings, he was tenth.
During 2005, he continued to drive Audi R8 prototype in the Le Mans Endurance Series, participating in three races with Audi Playstation Team Oreca. At 2005 Le Mans race, he partnered Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela in the #2 Champion Racing's Audi R8. They finished third overall.
The age of the fantastic trio Kristensen/McNis/Capello
The season of 2006 was the milestone year for McNish, as he joined the Audi factory team which entered world's endurance racing with new Audi R10 TDI prototype. He also became the partner of Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.
It became one of the most successful crews in the history of endurance racing. In the following seven years, they scored four Le Mans podiums (2006, 2009, 2010, and 2012) and won the race in 2008. In the same period, the same crew scored three wins and one podium at Sebring 12h.
Two-time American Le Mans Series champion
McNish was the American Le Mans Series champion for two years in a row (2006 and 2007), scoring incredible 17 wins in two seasons. His championship-winning partner in both seasons was Rinaldo Capello. The 2007 season was McNish's last full season in the ALMS, after which he regularly competed only at two ALMS events: at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, until his last participation in 2011.
Out of other competitions, McNish was a regular in the Le Mans Series and then in the FIA World Endurance Championship, after the championship was revived in 2012. It was the last season for the fantastic trio Kristensen/McNish/Capello. They finished second in their last joint participation at Le Mans.
2013 - WEC title before retirement
McNish and Kristensen were the FIA WEC runner-ups in 2012, after which they took the 2013 world's title, winning three races with Audi R18 e-tron quattro. One of those wins was at Circuit de la Sarthe. On June 23, 2013, Kristensen had won for the ninth time, and for McNish, it was the third overall win. Their partner in the #2 car was the Frenchman Loic Duval. For him, it was the maiden Le Mans victory.
After that victory, both McNish and Kristensen retired from active racing. McNish remained working for Audi Sport. His other jobs included managing careers of some racing drivers, commenting Formula One races, and representing various brands as an ambassador.