HARNEY COUNTY, Ore. – Race car driver Jessi Combs, who earned the title of the “fastest woman on four wheels” after she set a record with a jet-powered car, has died. She crashed the vehicle, officials said, while trying to beat a land speed record.
Combs died Tuesday in Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said. She was 39.
“She was a brilliant & to[p]-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example,” said Adam Savage, former co-host of the TV show “Mythbusters.”
Combs appeared in multiple episodes of the show, while host Kari Byron was on maternity leave. She also appeared as a host in shows such as “All Girls Garage” and “Overhaulin’.”
In October, Combs set a new top speed of 483.2 mph in a shakedown run.
On Tuesday, she was attempting to go faster when she crashed.
“On August 27, 2019 at approximately 4:00PM the Harney County 911 Center received a call reporting that a jet car attempting to break a land speed record on the Alvord Desert had crashed leading to one fatality,” the sheriff’s office said.
Her resume was full of firsts: the first woman to place at any Ultra4 event; the first woman to compete in The Race of Gentlemen event.
Her dedication to women’s empowerment in the automotive industry was also significant. She has a line of women’s welding gear with Lincoln Electric, as well as an online collaborative dedicated to empowering and educating women through industrial skills, called the RealDeal.
Valerie Thompson, the first woman to exceed 300 mph on a motorcycle and the “fastest woman on two wheels” expressed grief on Twitter, posting photos of the two of them together.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I pass along the news that Jessi Combs passed away yesterday while attempting to break a land speed record,” she wrote. “I also had the chance to attempt this record but it wasn’t my turn… this hits home for me. Godspeed, Jessi Combs.”
So I don’t know how to say any of this but it all needs said. I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman @thejessicombs she was truly my unicorn and I enjoyed every single minute that I had with her. She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know. Unfortunately we lost her yesterday in a horrific accident, I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!! I’m not ok, but she is right here keeping my going-I made her a promise that if this didn’t go well that I would make sure and do good with it, please help me with that, you are all going to see things on news please believe non of them.. we the family have drafted a release and it will come out today with more proper info, but I was just woke up by the media tracking me down and I need everyone of her true friends to do what she would want “take a deep breath, relax” and do good things with this. Please donate to nothing, I know there will be people try, we are finishing the documentary as she wished and the world will know the truth and her foundation will use those funds to do amazing things in this world and make her legacy live on properly. In the coming days her family and I will get the proper channels put together that you can then donate to that foundation but until you hear it from me wait please-I don’t want some asshole profiting off this (all ready had one try to sell us a video)… . . Love you all and thank you all for being such amazing friends to her, she dedicated her life to helping support others dreams and I promise I will continue that. #doitforjessi #myjessi