But it took moments to recognise his talent once you saw him in action: muscling his whispering diesel Audi R18 through lines of traffic at Le Mans with pace, aggression and caution in perfect balance.
His benchmark career was recognised by Hall of Fame voters, with almost two-thirds picking McNish in the Le Mans category, above David Brabham and Emanuele Pirro.
“I’m so proud to be recognised by the readers, because they’re very, very knowledgeable,” said the endurance racer-turned Formula E team boss. “They understand their stuff – they definitely know a Capello from a Kristensen from a McNish!”
Six-time IndyCar champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner – and still going strong
Boasting longevity along with outright speed, Scott Dixon, now 41, has maintained an incredible level of competitiveness. He became CART’s youngest winner at 20 years old and, two years later, in 2003, claimed his first championship with Chip Ganassi Racing. It was the beginning of a hugely successful partnership.
An impressive 2008 included six wins, as well as a maiden Indianapolis 500 victory, on the way to a second championship. From then, the New Zealander’s IndyCar consistency has been unrivalled, finishing in the top three every year bar one up to 2018.
With his single victory in 2021, only AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti have a higher tally than his 51 wins. Nominees Hélio Castroneves and Jimmie Johnson will have to wait in line behind one of US racing’s all-time greats.
Formula 1’s race director from 1997 until his death in 2019 was a pillar of the sport
Firm, fair and respected: if Charlie Whiting had never been born, he would still exist in the imagination as the quintessential F1 race director.
He was chief mechanic at Brabham during Bernie Ecclestone’s reign and grew into his role, becoming FIA technical delegate and then, from 1997, race director. His presence was felt from paddock to the gantry, a watching eye cast over all competitors. Footage of briefings show good-natured exchanges between race director and driver, although Whiting was never shy in setting firm boundaries.
This season has only highlighted the void that Whiting left following his death just ahead of the 2019 season. His legacy lives on: Whiting helped spearhead improvements in safety with the introduction of the survival cell and most recently the Halo device.
View every racing legend in the Motor Sport Hall of Fame