- Land-speed racer Jessi Combs died on Tuesday in Oregon while trying for a new record as a driver with the North American Eagle team.
- Combs had been attempting to break 512 mph, according to an Instagram post on Sunday, August 25.
- Combs was also a successful off-road racer, a custom automotive fabricator, and a TV host.
UPDATE 8/28/19: In a statement released this afternoon, the Harney County Sheriff's office confirmed Combs's death. The crash also caused a jet-fuel fire in the desert. Local law-enforcement agent Lt. Brian Needham said in an interview with The Oregonian that Combs's team is attempting to recover the jet car's onboard computers, which could provide more details on the cause of the crash, which is currently unknown.
Jessi Combs, an automotive fabricator, television host, off-road racer, and popularly known as the Fastest Woman on Four Wheels, was killed in a crash on Tuesday as she attempted to break her own land-speed record. Combs was 39 years old according to the North American Eagle team, which has placed the photo below on its website.
The crash occurred on a dry lake bed in Oregon's Alvord Desert. Combs was behind the wheel of the four-wheeled, 52,000-hp reconfigured F-104 jet that she used to break the previous women's four-wheeled speed record in 2013, with a 393-mph effort. She broke 440 mph in the vehicle in 2016, but mechanical problems stopped the attempt short before she could break her own record. Official land-speed records require two runs in opposite directions on a mile-long course. Combs indicated in an Instagram post on Sunday that she was hoping to break 512 mph.
In addition to her speed records, Combs had a degree in custom automotive fabrication and a distinguished career in off-road racing. She had two podium finishes in the Baja 1000, finished in the top 10 at the Rally of the Gazelles, and was the 2014 national champion of the Ultra4 off-road racing series. Combs hosted the automotive bucket-list TV show The List for Autoblog and appeared in Velocity's All Girls Garage, Discovery's Mythbusters, and several other shows.
The video below from 2015 shows Combs talking about her love of the sport and inside the North American Eagle record car. "I'm not afraid of dying," she said. "I don't want to die, but I'm not afraid of it . . . I just go, and I don't let up until I have to . . . Let this be a testament that girls can do anything we want to."
Details of the crash have not yet been released, but Combs's family confirmed her death in a statement. "Jessi's most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012," they wrote. "She left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history."