Allan McNish is currently a works Audi sports car driver. McNish raced in Formula One. After helping develop the Toyota during 2001, he participated in 17 grands prix. Along with teammate Mika Salo, he was dropped at the end of 2002. In 2003 he was a test driver for Renault F1, but returned to his successful sports car racing career the following year.
Allan McNish was born in Dumfries, Scotland. He lives in Monaco with his wife Kelly. He is currently driving an Audi R10 and an R8 for Audi Sport North America in the American Le Mans series.
Allan McNish began his career in karting and, like fellow Dumfriesshire driver David Coulthard, was recognised with a McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award having moved up to car racing. In 1988 he won the Formula Vauhall Lotus championship and in 1989 finished runner up to David Brabham in a close fought British Formula Three Championship. Tipped as a future F1 driver, he tested with both McLaren and Benetton, whilst also competing in F3000, then the recognised second tier of European motorsport, in 1990-2 finishing 4th overall in the championship in his first season. Concentrating on F1 opportunities meant he appeared in F3000 only once during 1994, at Pau.
When an F1 drive failed to materialise, he returned to F3000 in 1995 with Paul Stewart Racing, the forerunner of the Stewart Grand Prix team. While he was arguably the fastest driver of the year, a series of mishaps saw him well beaten by Super Nova drivers Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset in the title race. McNish's career appeared to stall in early 1996 after a deal to race in Formula Nippon fell through and Mark Blundell was preferred for a drive with the PacWest IndyCar team. He also tested for Benetton during the year.
Having devoted his career to the pursuit of an F1 chance, it is ironic that McNish has become one of the world's most highly rated drivers of Sports Cars. His sportcar career began in 1996 with Porsche, at a time when their 911 GT1 model revolutionized sportscar racing. With the factory team he took this car to victory in the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hour race, partnered by Laurent Aiello and Stephane Ortelli. He subsequently appeared for Toyota and Audi in the race, but is yet to add to this win. He has also raced with great success for Audi in the American Le Mans Series.
McNish finally found an opening into Formula One in 2001, when the newly formed Toyota F1 team required a development driver. Given his link with Toyota through sportscars he was an obvious choice for this role, and impressed in testing to the extent that McNish was on the starting grid for the team's F1 race debut on March 3, 2002. Unfortunately, he did not score any points during the season's 17 races, and he and team-mate Mika Salo were replaced with a new line-up of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta for 2003. This was a somewhat controversial decision, as Salo had scored points for the team on their debut in Melbourne and McNish had very nearly done the same with a superb drive in the Malaysian Grand Prix, only for a pit lane mistake by the team to cost him the result. As it was, the most notable moment of McNish's sole season in Formula One was his dramatic accident at the 130R corner while practising for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, in which he escaped serious injury. This led to the corner being reprofiled the following year.
In 2003 he was a test driver for Renault F1, also doing a little TV work for ITV, but the next year he returned to his successful sports car racing career, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, combining this in 2005 with a venture into the highly competitive DTM (German Touring Car Championship), where he competes against the likes of former F1 men Mika Häkkinen and Jean Alesi. He also won Sportscar Driver of the Year awards from the Autosport and Le Mans magazines and the (Jackie) Stewart Medal Award for services to Scottish Motor Sport.
In 2006, he continued to race as an official Audi sports car driver and was part of the driving line up which won the Sebring 12 Hours in the new Audi R10, having set the pole position time and broken the lap record.
He went on to won the American Le Mans Series Champion 8 wins out of 10 races.
He finished 3rd at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and was awarded the ACO prize for Best British Driver at Le Mans from the British Racing Driver's Club.