NASCAR, kudzu, and Fresno State

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 3, 2008

I’ve come to a realization.

When you work at a newspaper in the South, there are certain things you’ve almost certainly written about in your column at some point.

There’s the heat, the humidity, sweet tea, the heat again and kudzu.

Today, the topic is kudzu.

What on earth could make a sports writer write about kudzu?

I saw a news story that talked about NASCAR perhaps putting kudzu to use in their biofuel.

Apparently, some genius somewhere has discovered that kudzu can be used to produce ethanol.

Currently, the main crop that’s used to make ethanol is corn, but that’s not too cheap and it takes away from some of the food supplies.

With fuel costs continuing to go up, somebody stumbled upon kudzu.

Apparently, it wouldn’t be used as the primary source of ethanol, but as a supplement to the corn ethanol.

One thing’s for sure – if they can figure out a way to make this work, there will be no shortage of kudzu to use.

It’s originally an oriental species that was brought over as a forage crop.

Eventually, the government got the bright idea to tell farmers to plant it as a way to help control erosion.

What they didn’t realize was that the stuff grows better here than it did back home in Asia.

Taking this a step further, if NASCAR can make this stuff work for race car fuel, why can’t we incorporate kudzu ethanol into our everyday fuel?

That’d be spectacular.

Come on NASCAR, let’s make this work.

Putting kudzu aside for a moment, I’ve just got to comment on the Fresno State Bulldogs.

These guys were just barely over .500 when they started the NCAA tournament, but ended up national champions.

Is that great or what?

They played the best baseball in the country at the right time, fought hard even when facing elimination, and came away with the trophy.

This is seriously one of the great Cinderella stories ever.

It’s even better than the 11th-seeded George Mason Patriots making it the Final Four a couple of years ago.

What Fresno just pulled off would be like a 15- or 16-seed winning the national championship.

It’s unreal.

There are times when you see a Cinderella make waves during the dance, but usually they go home before too long.

It’s wonderful to finally see someone take it all the way.