Two years ago, a young British driver by the name of Pippa Mann was on pole position at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100, the curtain-raiser event to the start of the Indy 500 race weekend.

The year after that in 2011, she was on the grid at IMS again - but this time for the start of the centennial running of the greatest spectacle in motor racing itself, lining up in a Conquest Racing car and going on to finish in 20th place.

So impressed were IZOD IndyCar team bosses with both her driving and her social media marketing skills, Mann landed a three-race deal in late-season oval events with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The future looked bright indeed.

But in 2012, it's back to square one for the 28-year-old, London-born racer, and she finds herself on the sidelines at Indianapolis watching on while others get a chance to compete in the 96th running of the Indy 500 - but she does not.

"Sometimes these things are beyond our control," said Mann. "When you know that you've done everything you can to achieve something, and it still doesn't happen, it's frustrating and of course massively disappointing.

"But I did all I could and to that end, I have no regrets," she insisted. "Ultimately my only option now is to pick up, dust off, and get back out there!"

Another British driver, 31-year-old Jay Howard originally from Basildon in Essex, is in a similar position. He has two top five finishes in the Freedom 100 and made the grid for the Indy 500 for the first time in 2011 with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, but - despite seeming set for a second outing this year with new team MSR Indy - he too finds himself on the outside looking in in 2012.

"I'm gutted I won't be competing in the race this year," said Howard. "Qualifying for my first Indy last year was definitely a dream come true for me, and I'll never take for granted the opportunity at attempting to qualify at this special place."

Even once the MSR Indy deal fell apart when it was clear Michael Shank's fledgling IndyCar team wasn't getting an engine supplier in time, Howard hasn't been far away from the on-track action.

"I've been down at IMS every day the cars have been on track," he said. "Naturally, I'd prefer to be in the car, but just like the crowd, I'm also a fan too."

Mann had much the same feeling: "I'll definitely be watching from the sidelines to see how the rest of the month pans out," she confirmed. "I can't lie and say it won't be tough seeing the green flag wave on Race Day, as I have such good memories of competing in my first Indy 500 last year, but it's just one of those things. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!"

While missing out on the 2012 Indy 500 is a bitter pill for both drivers, there's nothing else for it than to pick themselves up and focus on the next opportunity down the road.

"We're still looking for sponsorship but I'm as determined as ever," said Mann. "I know with the right people, we can put a deal together to run in the series for the remaining races."

Howard said that he is also turning his attention to picking up "additional races this season and for the 2013 season," and in the meantime would be at the Indy 500 for Race Day hosting some of his corporate sponsors and also working as a special social media correspondent for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself.

"I believe so much in IndyCar and just want to see them succeed," said Howard. "While I'm gutted I won't be competing in the race this year, I'm excited to still have the opportunity to present our sport to new corporate partners who were interested in our program."