HIGHLAND | Rich Sivulich is used to watching his favorite NASCAR drivers race along tracks at speeds near 200 mph. Now, he has the vehicle to catch up to them.
Two weeks ago, Sivulich, a retired teacher at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, received the keys to NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon's personal 2008 Corvette. Sivulich, a die-hard Gordon fan, won the car through a raffle benefitting pediatric cancer patients at the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in North Carolina.
"I was going to the Web site to see if I won when the phone rang," Sivulich said. "I thought they were calling for another donation, but they said I won."
Sivulich said he was in disbelief throughout the entire conversation with Gordon and his foundation's director.
"I was kind of losing my breath. I thought someone was playing a joke on me," he said.
Each year, the foundation raffles Gordon's personal car with the proceeds benefiting pediatric cancer patients. Sivulich, who coached football and wrestling at TF North for a number of years, was flown to Dallas and received the keys to his new car just before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Dickies 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I sat in the car with (Gordon), and he asked me where I wanted him to sign it. His name's right on the dash," Sivulich said.
While there, he saw the race from Gordon's starting line suite.
"I've been to races before, but this was really nice. I didn't leave with a headache," Sivulich said.
With a sticker price of $82,500, Sivulich said his only worry about winning the shiny black Corvette was paying taxes on it, but as part of the deal Gordon personally paid the taxes and plated the car.
Sivulich said he ordinarily buys three $100 raffle tickets every year, but he decided to cut back to just one this time.
"It worked," Sivulich said.