39 year old professional speed racer and former host of Mythbusters, Jessi Combs, died Tuesday in a crash on a dry lake bed in Oregon’s Alvord Desert as she was in a jet car attempting to break a land speed record, authorities said.
The Harney County Sheriff’s Office said it was called to the scene of the fatal crash in the desert about 144 kilometres south of Burns, Oregon, around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Combs, who was nicknamed “the fastest woman on four wheels,” was pursuing a record on the dry lake bed, her family said in a statement.
Combs was the lead driver on the North American Eagle racing team. She was identified as the sole fatality connected with the accident, which is under investigation. The section of the Alvord Desert the team was using is approximately 13 kilometres long, authorities said.
Combs was a legend in the automotive world. Trained in fabrication and hot-rod building at WyoTech, she soon made her way to automotive television. Combs was a host, builder, and technical expert on shows like Xtreme 4×4, Overhaulin’, Truck U, and Two Guys Garage. She brought about Velocity channel’s All Girls Garage, and was a host and builder on a season of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters.
When not on camera, Combs competed in a wide variety of racing venues. She was the first woman to place at Ultra4’s King of the Hammers; she took home a Class 10 podium finish at the Baja 1000; and she ran in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, an all-women rally race. She was even the first woman to compete in The Race of Gentlemen, racing a twin-engine 1913 Ford Model T.
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.
Jessi Combs will be remembered as a fearless competitor, a master fabricator, an advocate for women in motorsports and the car community, and a constant positive presence in motorsports and media. Our condolences go out to her family, her friends, her teammates, and her fans worldwide.