TV personality, racer, and all-around car lover Jessi Combs died in a crash while attempting to capture a land speed record of 500+ mph on a dry lake bed in Oregon’s Alvord Desert. She was 39.
Combs was a veteran of jet-powered land speed racing. In 2013, she captured the title of fastest woman on four wheels when she piloted a modified fighter jet to an official two-way speed of 392.954 mph.
The goal of the recent attempt was to capture the outright women’s land speed record of 512.7 mph, set by Kitty O’Neil in 1976. Details of the accident are limited, although at these speeds it’s easy to see how a small deviation or equipment malfunction can turn fatal.
Combs was known for more than her racing exploits. Her numerous credits as a television personality included shows such as Mythbusters, Xtreme 4x4, All Girls Garage, and Overhaulin’, where she showcased her fabrication talents and automotive knowledge. She was also an accomplished racer, placing first in class in the brutal King of the Hammers off-road race, as well as finishing the Baja 1000.
During Combs’ tenure in the automotive media landscape, she served as a positive role model for enthusiasts, especially young women. Her contributions and passion for motorsports and automotive culture will be felt for generations to come.