Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Jessi Combs, speed champion and former Mythbuster, killed while attempting record-breaking jet car run

Published Aug 29th, 2019 10:40AM EDT
jessi combs crash
Image: Landspeed

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Jessi Combs, the current women’s record-holder for fastest speed in a 4-wheeled vehicle, was killed in a jet car crash while attempting to best her own speed record. The crash occurred during a run in the Alvord Desert in Oregon, a dry lake bed favored for its flat terrain. She was 39 years old.

Her name might not immediately ring a bell, but there’s a good chance you’ll recognize Combs thanks to her appearances on a number of television shows. She appeared on Overhaulin’ on the Discovery channel, and replaced Kari Byron as a co-host of Mythbusters for a dozen episodes as well.

Combs has been praised for her fabrication skills and was a highly experienced welder. Her talents came in handy when she took up racing and eventually found herself piloting the fastest land vehicles on the planet.

Her career as a jet car driver behind the wheel of the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger earned her the title of “Fastest Woman on Four Wheels.” Her records of 398 mph and a top speed of 440 mph still stand, and she was in pursuit of the title of “Fastest Woman on Earth.”

As local news reports explain, the crash itself is still under investigation, and the cause remains unknown according to local authorities.

This wasn’t Combs’ first time driving in Alvord, and she knew the area well enough to reach a speed of over 438 mph during a trial run in the same vehicle in 2018. During that drive, part of the vehicle’s door failed, causing it to be ripped from the vehicle, but Combs’ managed to bring it to a safe stop.

Jessi’s family released the following statement shortly after the news of the crash broke:

It is with extreme grief, and in celebration of her life that her family and close friends share that race car driver, and TV personality Jessi Combs, passed away in a fatal crash, where she was pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon. The details of the crash have not been released at this time.

Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams. 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.

Jessi is known for her hosting work on television series including “All Girls Garage”, “Overhaulin’ “, Extreme 4×4 and Autoblog’s “The List”.

Jessi is survived by her Mother Nina (Chuck, niece NIna Alayne) Darrington, Father Jamie (Sandy) Combs, brother Kelly Combs (Cary, Eli, Ethan and Anna), sisters Danielle Theis (Jacin, Justice, Nation), Brother Austin Darrington (Leah, Lane) Kayla Green, Kyrie Darrington, Natasha Darrington

Step sisters Rebekah Hall (son Aaren Kearns), Arielle Hall (son Dru Hanson). And Jessi‘s love Terry Madden and his son Dalton.

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.

More Science