Source AP ©

Minister leaves British government to become race-car driver

Being a race-car driver is a dream… in contrast with being a British government minister!

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office said Wednesday that defense procurement minister Lord Drayson was taking an indefinite leave of absence to compete in the American Le Mans series.

Paul Drayson, 47, a former pharmaceuticals entrepreneur appointed to the House of Lords in 2004, said last year that he took up competitive motor-racing as part of a "mid-life crisis." Drayson, who competes in a bioethanol-fueled Aston Martin, qualified for the U.S. competition by placing second at this year's British GT championship.

Drayson was appointed to the Ministry of Defense in 2005 by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to oversee Britain's 15 billion pound (US$30 billion; EUR21 billion) military hardware budget.

In a letter to Brown, Drayson described the chance to compete as a "once in a lifetime opportunity" and "a key step towards my eventual dream of success in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race."

The American Le Mans Series, a North American counterpart to the famous French endurance race, announced earlier this year that almost all its cars would race on biofuel.