Allan McNish: A Great Career Ends On A High
He's a three-time winner at Le Mans, part of the team that secured the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, and has forged his legacy within sportscar racing over an incredible career that came to an end just recently. Dumfries' very own Allan McNish called time on his endurance racing career just days before his 44th birthday, which he celebrates today.
He has been a part of a true racing dynasty, as Audi Sport's dominant LMP1 program, which has been under the guidance of Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich for over the last decade and a half . One of the most noteworthy mentions regarding the Scottish racer's association with Ingolstadt, is that he is the only driver that has raced in every single car that has been fielded at Le Mans since 1999, from the R8R up until this season's R18 e-tron quattro, which helped him, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval win at the 24 Heures du Mans and the WEC title.
His 32-year career has seen this recognisable character within the world of motorsport compete in Formula 3, Formula 1 and DTM amongst other categories, but endurance racing has been his real home. Every year he has taken part in Le Mans has seen him have his fair share of highs and lows, especially with the accidents that involved both himself and Mike Rockenfeller in 2011, but proved that the new regulations brought in that season made LMP1 racing so much safer.
Along with his successes at Le Mans, he also is a four-time winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring, which no longer fielded a LMP1 category after the 2012 race, where he took the final victory there for Team Joest. Other accomplishments include three American Le Mans Series titles and 29 overall class wins en route to his first and subsequent only WEC title.
Allan now resides in Monaco with his wife Kelly and his two children, son Finlay and daughter Charlotte, but will still remain heavily involved in Audi Sport's program in the future, especially when it comes to younger drivers coming into the sport.
With regards to his comments regarding what his mentor and fellow countryman Sir Jackie Stewart taught him during his formative years, having developed a love of racing the minute he jumped into a kart and was hooked with the thrill of speed, I can understand and respect his decision to retire at the very top of sportscar racing.
Having met the man in person at the 2013 Autosport International Show, Allan is a very approachable man, whose dry wit is definitely hilarious, but from a motorsport insight perspective, the depth he gives on many different topics is quite astounding, and you can very clearly see his transferrable enthusiasm which indeed becomes infectious.
Some other great aspects about Allan from a personal view that he is down to earth and incredibly realistic and tells it like it is. He is a likeable guy off track, but when the visor went down on his helmet, he was always pushing to the limit, especially when the words "Scottish terrier" were used in the same sentence.
Dr. Ullrich's statement about McNish's hard work with Ingolstadt paid testament to his character as a complete professional when it came to winning and being a major part of the "family" that he was an integral part of for 13 years: "At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan’s racing successes.
“We should not forget, though, how valuable he has been in the development of our race cars, how great a team player he has always been and how he has consistently applied himself to achieve Audi’s aims far beyond motorsport with professionalism, loyalty and commitment. We regret that Allan will no longer be contesting any races for us but are happy that he will continue to be associated with Audi Sport and the Audi brand.”
I'm glad to see that Allan has made what he feels is the "right choice," as there comes that time in a driver's career when it is time to make a call that is in his/her best interests, especially when a lot of sacrifice has been made over the years and that life needs to be enjoyed a lot more. His tenacity behind the wheel will be missed, but I am glad to see that he is getting on with the next stage of his involvement within motorsport for many years to come.
Thanks for the memories, Allan...