While attempting to beat her own land speed record on August 27, Jessi Combs, racer, fabricator and television personality, crashed her 52,000-hp jet car in Oregon’s Alvord Desert, killing her. Combs was 36 years old and held the title of “fastest woman on four wheels” after breaking 398 mph in that same North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger in 2013.
Combs was attempting to beat her previous record, and had attempted it as recently as last year, when she managed 483.227 mph before mechanical problems ended the attempt.
Combs’ death was confirmed on Instagram by Terry Madden, a member of Combs’ team.
Combs was much more than a very, very fast person; she was a builder, fabricator and television personality, frequently appearing on Overhaulin’, All Girls Garage, and even served as a host of Mythbusters.
Combs was an accomplished off-road racer as well, competing in the Baja 1000 and was the first woman to place at a King of Hammers event; in 2016 she had a 1st-place finish at the King of Hammers.
Combs joined the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger team as driver in 2013. Her goal was to pilot the car (built from a decommissioned fighter jet) beyond 512 mph, the record for Fastest Woman on Earth, set in 1976 by Kitty O’Neil.
Combs was an impressive force in racing and motoring regardless of gender. She was a valuable role model for women in motorsport and hands-on automotive work.