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Driver for the queens

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Driver for the queens

Rod Rivard in his 1963 Stingray Corvette.

JAMES BURNS/The Bulletin


POSTED September 27, 2013 1:13 a.m.

If you’re a homecoming candidate at Sierra or Lathrop high schools and you’re serious about wearing the crown tonight, let me introduce you to a friend …

“Oh, I don’t know what her name is,” Rod Rivard said with a chuckle, circling the 1963 Stingray Corvette. “Let’s call her Eleanor.”

The super-slick sports car has become a harbinger of homecoming success, and if you’re looking to boost your chances at victory tonight, you might want to ring Rivard.

He and “Eleanor” have chauffeured an East Union princess or a queen almost every year since 2007, according to unofficial records culled together by Rivard’s publicist and booking agent, daughters Karlee and Krissy Rivard.

Student Activities Director Jenaia Cano confirmed the bizarre streak.

From 2007 queen Cassandra Sinclair to 2010 princess Kianna Lamont to 2013 queen Lindsey Machado, nearly every East Union darling has had one thing in common: The magic of the mid-year, Chevy’s signature sports car.

“I tell every winner it was because of the car,” Rod Rivard said. “That’s what I do. All I know is that I get a lot of requests for the car. My youngest daughter (Krissy) is part of the homecoming committee. I know she had several requests from various contestants.”

Machado submitted her request, but she had no clue about Rivard’s unique winning streak. All she knew was that she needed to find a car and the Rivard family kept a cherry convertible in the garage.

“Leadership said we needed to find our own cars,” Machado said. “I’ve been friends with the family since kindergarten and he had the nicest car, so I figured I might as well ask. I think (the winning streak) is crazy. … The car is lucky.”

Duh.

You think the streak is uncanny? Let’s dig deeper into those unofficial records.

One year, Rivard said he was asked to pull double-duty because East Union’s homecoming committee was short on cars. In two sweeps around the track at Dino Cunial Field, Rivard introduced both the princess and queen.

Want more?

Another time, Rivard and his Corvette drove winners in the East Union and Lathrop homecoming ceremonies. “I had a friend working at Lathrop High and they asked to use the car,” he said. “The homecomings were a week or two apart. It was kind of fun … I had two winners in the same year.”

And just for good measure:

It was his red Corvette that ferried Miss Manteca in the Fourth of July parade.

Simply: If you want to wear the sash and crown – if you want the adoration of the people – you don’t need votes or a judge’s approval.

You need to arrive in the Corvette.

Rivard’s Corvette.

He’s happy to give you a lift, too.

The Canadian transplant and lifetime Corvette fan has owned two. He purchased “Eleanor” 12 years ago from someone in Napa and restored it to its original condition. But he hasn’t driven it as much as he would like.

For the most part, his “Sunday driver” has been downgraded to an “every-other-Sunday” driver because of his kids’ sports schedules.

Good luck fitting three kids with hockey sticks and soccer bags in a two-seater.

It’s a Corvette, not a clown car.

“It’s in great shape. I purchased it the way it looks. I completely rebuilt the suspension and that’s it,” Rivard said. “I go to some car shows every once in awhile and do homecoming every year, but it’s a Sunday driver for the most part.

“My three kids were and are active in sports, so that basically took up my weekends. Between soccer and hockey, my weekends have been and are pretty busy. I don’t drive it as much as I’d like.”

But when he does, and there’s a candidate sitting atop his trunk waving to the home crowd, a magic moment follows.

You see, becoming a homecoming queen or princess has nothing to do with winning a vote. Sure, being popular helps.

But the only way to crest that hill, to complete the journey is in style. Winning, you see, has everything to do with “Eleanor” turning the wheel of fate in your direction.

“The car is becoming popular around town,” Rivard said. “I should,” charge an appearance fee, he added jokingly.

“I enjoy doing it. If they keep asking me, I’ll keep doing it.”

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