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Driver Jessi Combs dies in crash while trying to break her own land speed record

Jessi Combs
Jessi Combs in an image from video.
(Jessi Combs / YouTube)

Professional driver and TV personality Jessi Combs died in a crash Tuesday while trying to break her own land speed record. She was 39.

Combs’ North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger teammate Terry Madden confirmed Wednesday on Instagram that “we lost her yesterday in a horrific accident.”

For the record:
7:29 AM, Aug. 29, 2019 An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Combs was 36 at the time of her death.

“I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!!” Madden wrote of the crash that occurred around 4 p.m. in the Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon.

Madden wrote: “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.”

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In 2013, Combs became known as “the fastest woman on four wheels” after driving her jet-powered North American Eagle to a speed of 398 mph. According to Popular Mechanics, Combs has hit 483 mph in the same vehicle and was attempting to set a new land speed record at the time of the fatal crash.

In a social media post Saturday, Combs shared a photo of herself walking toward a jet car along with the caption: “It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire... those who are willing, are those who achieve great things. People say I’m crazy. I say thank you ;)”

Among the hashtags she included in the post were #iwillgofaster, #gottabreak512, #aimingfor619 and #currentlyat483.

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Motorcyle driver Valerie Thompson, known as “the fastest woman on two wheels,” tweeted Wednesday: “This hits home for me. Godspeed, Jessi Combs.”

Combs was born in Rapid City, S.D., and based out of Long Beach at the time of her death. She graduated from WyoTech in Laramie, Wyo., with a degree in custom automotive fabrication and later became co-host of “Xtreme 4x4" on Spike TV. She left the show in 2008, soon after suffering a serious spine injury on set, but continued to make appearances on numerous shows, including the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters.”

“She was a brilliant & top-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example,” former “Mythbusters” co-host Adam Savage tweeted. “She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence.

Combs’ family released a statement later Wednesday.

“Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams,” her family stated. “Her drive was infectious, and she served as a role model for young Girls, and Women around the world. People that loved her and followed her became family, all bonded together by adventure and passion. Her fans adored her, and she lived to inspire them. Jessi’s most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on Earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012. Combs was one of the rare dreamers with the bravery to turn those possibilities into reality, and she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history.

“Surrounded by her family and friends at the time of her passing, Jessi lived fearlessly and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched.”

They added: “A celebration of Jessi’s life in being planned and a foundation is being created to continue her efforts to empower women and young girls to follow their dreams.”


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