Australian Ryan Briscoe appeared to be on the fast track to success after taking the 2003 Formula 3 Euroseries title on the strength of eight victories.
His performance impressed Toyota F1, who signed Briscoe to be one of their test drivers in 2004. In 2005, he was all set to join the Toyota-powered Jordan Grand Prix.
Then, he made a decision no one expected: he turned down F1 to join IndyCar.
That year, Briscoe suffered serious injuries in a horrifying accident at Chicagoland Speedway. The time away from the seat, paired with poor results, looked to spell the end of Briscoe's career. How differently it all could have been...
Fortunately for Ryan, though, backmarkers Dreyer & Reinbold tabbed him to race at Watkins Glen in 2006, where he took an impressive third place finish. The following season, the Aussie participated in the Indianapolis 500, finishing fifth with new team Luczo-Dragon Racing.
In 2008, Briscoe got a dream ride by IndyCar standards, joining the Penske squad.
Perhaps, then, Ryan Briscoe is the only driver on the list who failed at reaching F1 by his own choice. One has to wonder what on earth he was thinking.
Then again, maybe Briscoe gets the last laugh. He just tied the knot with American racing reporter Nicole Manske. The IRL doesn't seem so bad now, after all, does it Ryan?