Jessica Combs[1] (July 27, 1980 – August 27, 2019)[2] was an American professional racer, television personality, and metal fabricator. She set a women's land speed class record (four wheels) in 2013 and broke her own record in 2016. She was known as "the fastest woman on four wheels".[3]

Jessi Combs
Jessi Combs at SEMA Show 2012 (8158037371) (cropped).jpg
Combs at SEMA Show in 2012
Born(1980-07-27)July 27, 1980
DiedAugust 27, 2019(2019-08-27) (aged 39)
Occupation
  • Racer
  • metal fabricator
  • television personality

She co-hosted the Spike TV show Xtreme 4x4 for more than 90 episodes from 2005 to 2009.[4] Other television shows she appeared on included Overhaulin', Mythbusters, The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, All Girls Garage,[5] and Science Channel's How to Build... Everything in 2016.[6]

Combs died after crashing a jet-powered high-speed race car at the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon while attempting to beat her four-wheel land speed record.[7][8] She was posthumously awarded the female land-speed world record by Guinness World Records in June 2020.[9]

Early life and educationEdit

Combs was born in Rockerville, South Dakota,[10] on July 27, 1980,[2] the daughter of Jamie Combs and Nina Darrington.[4][11][12] The family moved to Piedmont, South Dakota, when she was two years old.[10] She had three siblings, Kelly Combs, Austin Darrington, Danielle Theis, and two stepsiblings, Rebekah Hall and Arielle Hall. Combs' great-grandmother was Nina DeBow, a jazz pianist who raced Stanley Steamers.[12]

She graduated from Stevens High School in 1998.[10] Combs graduated from WyoTech in 2004, where she attended the Collision & Refinishing Core Program, the Street Rod Fabrication and Custom Fabrication, and High Performance Powertrain programs. Following her graduation, Combs's first professional job came after the WyoTech marketing department hired her and another student to build a car from the ground up in six months to debut at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association's (SEMA) show.[4]

CareerEdit

RacingEdit

As a professional driver, Combs raced in a range of events and enjoyed many successes.

  • 2011 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 10[13]
  • 2013 – Set women's land speed record – 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 Stampede – 1st – Legends Class
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 Glen Helen Grand Prix – 2nd – Spec Class
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 American Rock Sports Challenge – 3rd – Spec Class
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 Western Region Series – 1st – Spec Class
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 National Championship – 1st – Spec Class
  • 2014 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – Spec Class
  • 2015 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 7
  • 2015 – Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (off-road rally race) – 1st – First Participation – 10th overall
  • 2016 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – EMC Modified Class[14]
  • 2017 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 12th – 4400 Class

On October 9, 2013, Combs drove the North American Eagle (NaE) Supersonic Speed Challenger at the Alvord desert, claiming the women's 4-wheel land speed record with an official run of 398.954 mph (632 km/h) and a top speed of 440.709 mph (709 km/h).[15] In doing so, she broke the 48-year-old women's land speed record, a 308.506 mph (496.492 km/h) run average set by Lee Breedlove in Spirit of America - Sonic 1 in 1965.[16] On September 7, 2016, Combs set a new top speed of 477.59 mph (768.61 km/h) driving the Other American Eagle.

Combs was also a 2014 Ultra 4 Spec Class National Champion with Falken Tire. In 2016, she took first place in King of the Hammers with the Savvy Off Road team in the EMC Modified Class and a 2017 12th-place finish in the Unlimited Class driving the same Stock Mod car.[17]

TelevisionEdit

Combs hosted the SpikeTV television show Xtreme 4x4, a part of the Powerblock, for four years. Following an on-set accident,[18] Combs announced in February 2008 that she would leave the show.[19]

In 2009, Combs appeared in twelve episodes of the seventh season of MythBusters while Kari Byron was on maternity leave.[20] She also appeared on Overhaulin'.[21]

Starting in 2011, Combs hosted the Autoblog series, The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, alongside co-host Patrick McIntyre.[22]

From 2011 to 2014, Combs served as one of the hosts of All Girls Garage on Velocity (now Motor Trend network). The basis of the show was women repairing and upgrading new and classic automobiles.

In 2012, Combs became a co-host with Chris Jacobs for the sixth season of Overhaulin's re-launch on the Velocity and Discovery channels.

In 2018, Combs appeared on the Discovery channel panel show Break Room.

Also in 2018, Combs appeared on an episode of Jay Leno's Garage as Jay Leno's guest driver of a Bugatti Chiron.[23]

DeathEdit

Combs died on August 27, 2019, after crashing a jet-powered car while attempting to break a land speed record as part of the North American Eagle Project on a dry lake bed in the Alvord Desert, Oregon.[2][3][7][8] The crash was caused by a failure of a front wheel, likely caused by hitting an object in the desert, which caused the front wheel assembly to collapse at a speed of 522.783 mph (841.338 km/h).[24] The official cause of death was determined to be "blunt force trauma to the head" occurring prior to the fire that engulfed the race vehicle after the crash.[24]

Combs' final run across Oregon's Alvord Desert on August 27 reached 522.783 mph (841.338 km/h),[25] before her crash, which broke the existing women's land speed record of 512.71 mph (825.13 km/h), set in 1976 by Kitty O'Neil at the same location. This record was verified by Guinness World Records in June 2020.[26][27]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Zarrell, Matt (August 28, 2019). "Professional female driver and TV host dies attempting to break land speed record". ABC News. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Torchinsky, Jason (August 28, 2019). "'Fastest Woman On Four Wheels' Jessi Combs Killed In Jet-Car Crash". Jalopnik. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Asmelash, Leah (August 29, 2019). "Race car driver Jessi Combs, known as the 'fastest woman on four wheels,' dies while trying to beat record". CNN. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "About". Jessi Combs.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  5. ^ "TV Personality". Jessi Combs.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Slead, Evan (May 27, 2016). "Science Channel: How to Build Everything explores mankind's greatest inventions with fun flair". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Lerten, Barney (August 27, 2019). "Well-known racer killed in Alvord Desert land speed record attempt". KTVZ. Bend, Oregon. Archived from the original on August 31, 2019. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Chokshi, Niraj (August 28, 2019). "Jessi Combs, TV Host and Racecar Driver, Dies in Attempt at Land Speed Record". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Fastest land speed record (Female)".
  10. ^ a b c Holland, Deb (August 7, 2017). "Combs races to the top of cycling world". Rapid City Journal. p. B1. Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved August 28, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ McBride, Jessica (August 28, 2019). "Jessi Combs' Family & Boyfriend: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Holland, Deb (August 7, 2017). "Black Hills native first woman grand marshal". Meade County Times Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  13. ^ "Driver = Racer". Jessi Combs.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  14. ^ "Jessi Combs". Warn Industries Blog. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  15. ^ Walker, Steve (October 13, 2013). "Fastest woman on four wheels crowned after 440mph record run". MSN Cars UK. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  16. ^ MacKenzie, Angus (October 15, 2013). "Jessi Combs breaks 48-year old land speed record". Gizmag.com. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  17. ^ "WARN Graces All Podiums During Ultra4 2016 Nitto King of the Hammers Week". Warn Industries Blog. February 12, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  18. ^ Teague, Chris (November 4, 2017). "Jessi Combs Sits Down And Drops Knowledge About Herself". The Drive. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  19. ^ "Jessi Combs Named Spokesperson For WyoTech". Performance Racing Industry. July 30, 2013. Archived from the original on August 29, 2019. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  20. ^ "Jessi Combs – MythBusters Cast". Discovery. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  21. ^ "US female driver given speed record in fatal crash". BBC News. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "The List – 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die". Autoblog.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  23. ^ Blumberg, Yoni (January 25, 2018). "The fastest car in the world is worth $3 million—here's how it rides". CNBC. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  24. ^ a b BBC, BBC (June 25, 2020). "Jessi Combs: US racing driver given female speed record in 2019 fatal crash". BBC News. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Jessi is the first person to break this record in more than 40 years". guinnessworldrecords. June 23, 2020.
  26. ^ Gastelu, Gary (September 23, 2019). "Jessi Combs' fatal land speed record attempt to be submitted to Guinness". Fox News. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  27. ^ American jet-car racer and Mythbusters host Jessi Combs posthumously awarded world land-speed record for a woman, ABC/AP, 2020-06-25

External linksEdit