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Hot Dates With Destiny

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In auto racing:

Transgender driver Terri O'Connell just formally announced her NASCAR comeback, and a hot date with tests and qualifying at Memphis Motorsports Park on October 27. Next comes the ARCA Series in Daytona in February. She has a seat with a top racing team, and growing support from old fans who cheered her when she was driving as JT Hayes in the Nextel Cup chase in 1990. But the conservative fogies who run NASCAR may have issues with Terri's return, so there might be some political fireworks.

Terri's comeback offers GLBT big business the chance to plaster their sponsor logos on her car and driver suit. This is advertising that goes past the TV cameras 500 times in a 500-lap race, plus a few more for pit stops, and a big extra if you make victory lane. Will pink business grab this opportunity -- considering that mainstream business falls all over itself for market shares of auto-racing's enormous ad outreach? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, gay driver Evan Darling has a hot date with the Fireball Run, that annual Orlando-L.A. adventure rally starting September 27. He's driving the Team G.L.A.M. car, with co-driver Joe LaMuraglia of Gaywheels. No political problems here -- the Fireball organizers accepted the Gaywheels entry without batting a windshield wiper.

After the Fireball, Evan will continue his battle to break into the pro levels of sports-car racing -- which also means more need of sponsors.

Meanwhile, in FIFA women's soccer:

Brazil's Seleção has a hot date with the USA in the semi-finals on September 27. Interestingly enough, the USA had to beat Brazil in Athens to take the Olympic gold in women's soccer. So the upcoming match isn't exactly a first date. In the quarter-final tussle in Tianjin, the girls from Brazil seized an early 2-0 lead over Australia. The gritty Matildas fought back and evened the score. But Brazil's Christiane launched a scorcher from the edge of the box and made it 3-2 to win.

In the other half of semi-finals, Norway made a date with Germany.

-- Patricia Nell Warren