Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Allan McNish said he had been bestowed "one of the highest honors a driver can achieve" after being awarded the Segrave Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club in London's Pall Mall, for his "exceptional endeavor in motorsport."
The 39-year-old Scot follows reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton on a list of previous recipients that includes Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Barry Sheene and Land Speed Record holder Andy Green.
The trophy is awarded to a British subject for outstanding achievements in transport on land, sea or in the air.
"Jackie told me that this is probably the highest honor any racing driver could be given," said McNish on receiving the award during a ceremony at the RAC Club, "and I am beginning to understand what he means.
"I didn't expect or know very much about it until I received notification of it," McNish told AUTOSPORT. "Then I looked into it and I realized what Segrave had done himself. The story that got me was that when he was [mortally] injured while trying to break his own water speed record, his last croak was to find out if he had beat it!
"When you see the people around the room, like Andy Green, who do things that are totally different to what we are trying to do, but whose achievements are nonetheless absolutely up there, that's what I think makes it very special and very different.
"For me when I looked through the list and saw Donald and Malcolm Campbell and the whole...'She's going, she's going…' all those words you hear from being a little boy. We all have to start somewhere and have an interest and mine came from hearing those stories and now to be on the bottom of a trophy with all of those people on it you think wow this is an honor."
Sir Henry Segrave was the first British driver to win a grand prix in a British car. He set three land speed records and was the first person ever to travel at more than 200mph.
Having captured the world water speed record, Segrave was killed trying to break it in 1930 when his boat, Miss England II
, capsized at speed on Lake Windemere.