Jessi Combs, the famous racer and TV personality known as the “fastest woman on four wheels,” was killed Tuesday in a crash while attempting to break her own speed record in her jet-powered streamliner.
Combs was driving on a dry lake bed in the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon when the car went out of control at high speed and crashed. She was 39.
A professional race driver, car builder and metal fabricator, Combs was a legend in both motorsports and on automotive television, where she served as a host and technical expert on a number of programs, including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin’, Two Guys Garage and Xtreme 4×4, as well as appearing in a season of Mythbusters.
She earned her title of “fastest woman on four wheels” in 2013 when she set a record of 398 mph in a jet-powered streamliner, the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger. Last year, she reached an unofficial 483.227 mph, although mechanical trouble ended her run before she could make a second pass in the opposite direction to make the record official.
Her death was confirmed in an Instagram post by teammate Terry Madden, and her family issued a statement today.
“It is with extreme grief, and in celebration of her life that her family and close friends share that race car driver, and TV personality Jessi Combs, passed away in a fatal crash, where she was pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon,” the family statement says. “The details of the crash have not been released at this time.”
Combs was a towering figure in the male-dominated world of auto racing and car building, and was an accomplished metal fabricator and welder, even designing her own line of welding clothing and gear for women.
As well as vying for speed records, Combs was active in a number of racing competitions, such as Ultra4’s King of the Hammers; the Baja 1000, where she had a podium finish; and in the all-women rally race Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.