Jeff Gordon's "Hiccup Girl" finally meets her idol

Courtesy of Courtney Sterner

Jeff Gordon may have been inducted into the Watkins Glen Hall of Fame Friday, but he's been in Courtney Sterner's personal Hall of Fame for 17 years. The twenty-year-old from Fleetwood, PA, fell in love with the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet's rainbow paint scheme when she was three and as most true NASCAR fans do, has remained loyal to her driver ever since. This season has been particularly special to her because she came to the attention of her idol through an unusual set of circumstances. She became known as "Jeff Gordon's Hiccup Girl", which led to meeting her idol face-to-face this past weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Courtney, or Courtniee-Mariee, as she's known on Twitter, saw her first race at age three and says, "I was hooked right away. I just fell in love with it instantly. It was the first sport I ever watched."

She's such a fan that her goal is to become a NASCAR PR manager, crediting Gordon's example with teaching her to chase her dreams despite her hearing impairment. Courtney is completely deaf in her right ear, but has some hearing in her left ear.

When Courtney got the hiccups before the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, she tweeted Gordon about them. She told him "it was the first time I had them since his win at Texas (in April, 2009) that I had them and that the four races before that he had won, I had hiccups as well." Seems that every time she'd gotten hiccups on raceday since the Darlington race in May 2007, Gordon ended up in Victory Lane. At first she thought it was a coincidence, but when race day hiccups continued to coincide with Gordon victories, she began to think there was more to it.

She went on to explain that Gordon had seen her tweet, "which I never actually thought would happen because a lot of people tweet him. Well, he won the race and he mentioned how someone on Twitter mentioned they had hiccups and said she know he was going to win the race. I never thought it was going to be that big of a deal but apparently it was a bigger deal than I could have ever imagined." Those mentions were in post-race interviews and appearances, including the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "Being mentioned on radio shows and Leno was really cool. I was never expecting that. I thought that he would have only mentioned the hiccups once so it was a surprise to me. I was even surprised that I was being asked to do radio shows and ESPN’s NASCAR Now. The Leno mention was unexpected to me. I’m not actually sure when Jeff Gordon found out I was the one with the hiccups, but when he found out, I was really excited."

Courtney won tickets to the 2011 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocano Raceway in June, and the raceway tried to set up a meeting for Courtney with Gordon then, but were unable to arrange it. She still attended the race though, and Gordon scored his second win of the season.

"Meeting Jeff Gordon was literally a dream come true for me," Courtniee said. "I have always entered contests to meet him. In fact last year I entered a contest 2700 times to meet him at Loudon and I seriously cried when I did not win. It devastated me because I really thought that was just a sign I was not meant to meet him. Then when I got an e-mail from Pocono saying they want to arrange a Meet and Greet between me and Jeff Gordon, I was shocked but also worried. I did not want to get too excited for it because I did not want to jinx it. Then the day of it, I was really nervous. I remember waiting for him to come out and thinking of what I wanted to say to him, but when he came out, my mind want blank and I couldn’t remember anything."

Courtney said Gordon asked about her hiccups and said she hadn't had them in a while, and wondered when she was going to have them again. He told her he had not felt good about the Phoenix race, but when he was going through twitter messages, he saw hers. "I can’t remember his exact words, but he said my hiccups were one of the first things he thought about. Jeff Gordon is one of the nicest NASCAR drivers I have ever met. You could tell he cared about his fans and he was terested in what my family was saying. I hope if I ever meet him again though, I will remember what I want to say."

"I also told Jeff Gordon that when I have hiccups he wins and when I was at the first Pocono race, he won, so now that he met me, it means he’ll win the championship."
Jeff Gordon's "Hiccup Girl" finally meets her idol Jeff Gordon's "Hiccup Girl" finally meets her idol Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, August 14, 2011 Rating: 5