Note to future "Jeopardy" contestants: If the category is a euphemism for "Southern Things" and you answer "What are General Robert E. Lee, grits and collard greens, Spanish moss on a magnolia tree and NASCAR," the next sound you are going to hear is that of a buzzer and Alex Trebek saying sorry, you are wrong.
NASCAR, which invades Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, used to be a Southern Thing when the Allisons and the Pettys and Yarborough (Cale) and Yarbrough (LeeRoy) were rubbin' and racin'.
Fast forward to last week's Daytona 500, where eight of the top 10 finishers and 30 of the 43 starters hailed from north (and west) of the Mason-Dixon Line. That is, unless you count Bakersfield, Calif., the hometown of Kevin Harvick, as the Deep South. If you do, subtract by one.
At Daytona, there were drivers from Colombia and Australia and Italy and New Jersey.
In the old days of NASCAR, there also were drivers from Columbia -- the one in South Carolina that is spelled with a "u."
I had planned to close by saying there weren't any drivers from New Jersey back then. But that isn't true. Although D.K. Ulrich sounds like a guy from whom you'd borrow a socket wrench, he was born in Woodbury, N.J. He posted 16 top-10 finishes in 273 races over 19 NASCAR seasons.
D.K. Ulrich is the stepfather of the actor Skeet Ulrich. You know, just in case you ever find yourself in Final Jeopardy and Trebek wants to know.
■ DEPARTMENT OF ZAGRICULTURE: I'm hearing the Gonzaga And Those Other Schools Invitational -- aka the West Coast Conference basketball tournament -- from March 5 to 8 at the Orleans Arena is a virtual sellout for the second consecutive year. They love the 'Zags at Big Al's Oyster Bar. Pepperdine and Saint Mary's, too.
■ DISTANT THUNDER: The guy who scored the winning goal for Slovakia in the seventh round of a shootout against favored Russia in the Winter Olympics looked vaguely familiar. It was Pavol Demitra, who lit the lamp eight times in 22 games for the defunct Las Vegas Thunder during the 1996-97 NHL lockout. I keep watching Belarus and Latvia, hoping Lyndon Byers might surface on the checking line for one of those teams. So far, no luck.
■ MOE, LARRY AND CURLING: Here's what I have learned about Olympic curling: If the house is set up, you gotta have the hammer in the 10th. Oh, yeah, and that watching the Japanese women curl the rock, or whatever they do, is infinitely better than watching Mary Hart kiss up to celebrities, or whatever she does, after Craig Ferguson goes off.
■ IT'S GOTTA BE THE PANTS: Whereas I think I am beginning to understand curling, what I don't understand is why Tiger Woods doesn't start smoking and drinking and why he doesn't invest in a pair of goofy golfing slacks, considering how well it has worked for John Daly.
■ MEA CULPA, YOU'RE EXCUSED: If sports is entertainment and movies are entertainment and rock 'n' roll is entertainment, why do Woods' people feel compelled to have him read a public apology while Elizabeth Taylor and Van Halen get a hall pass? If reincarnation is an option, Mickey Mantle and President Kennedy probably will decline.
■ LAWYER, LAWYER PANTS ON FIRE: Generally, I am not in favor of lawyers deciding who gets into the high school playoffs and who doesn't. But I keep recalling a conversation I had with Jonathan Tavernari, the Brigham Young basketball star, when Bishop Gorman hired lawyers so he could play in the state playoffs: When grown-ups make the rules and other grown-ups interpret them, it's often youngsters who suffer consequences.
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0352.