Jessi Combs 36, died on Aug. 27 while trying to break her own land-speed record in southeast Oregon, according to CNN. Combs, dubbed the “Fasted Woman On Four Wheels,” was piloting a jet-powered land-speed car on the Alvord Desert — a dry lake bed where several land-speed records have been set — when she suffered the fatal crash.
The Harney County Sheriff’s Office said it received a 911 call about an accident shortly after 4 pm, according to local reports. Though the authorities withheld the name of the victim, one member of Jessi’s team, Terry Madden, confirmed her death the following morning.
I never met Jessi personally, but she did drop in at Power Automedia to do a shoot a few years back and her presence was palpable that day. We covered her story in a Rod Authority article from 2014 and now sadly, the interview is a poignant look back.
After I heard the news, I scrolled through Jessi’s Facebook page this morning. A post there resonated with me and might be the best insight to what drove her to be the gearhead, media personality, and racer that she was.
What a way to live. It was easy to see she lived that ethos by all she achieved, even in death. Even though her life was hectic, she found time to be involved with SEMA and volunteer work as well.
Many people knew Jessi from her off-road exploits and we covered her in an Off-Road Xtreme article as well.
Off-Road Xtreme Editor Steve Olesweski remembers Jessi: “She was someone many people in the off-road community looked forward to seeing in the dirt. Whether it was on the trails in Moab or racing at King of the Hammers, Combs was deeply imbedded and loved in the off-road community.
“Combs was always up for learning and that could be seen with her wide set of fabrication skills. She was known for telling people ‘I’ll try anything at least twice; I wouldn’t want to be jaded by my first attempt.’ It seemed that anything Combs touched, she succeeded in. Combs made her name building and racing all sorts of machines, many of them made to move fast in the dirt.
“Among them, Class 10 buggies in the Baja desert, as well as powerful race trucks in off-road events such as the TORC Duel In The Desert held on April 2014 at Primm, Nevada. Combs had been nicknamed the first woman of Ultra4, as she was the first woman to win a King of the Hammers class, which she did in 2014 when she won the Spec Class. Combs also won the 4500 class in 2016 as well as placing Third overall in the Everyman Challenge race that year. Combs touched many people’s lives in the off-road community and she will be truly missed.”
They say you live as long as someone remembers you. In the case of Jessi Combs, she has fans and followers around the world, and she will live in our hearts forever. From all of us at Power Automedia, we extend our deepest sympathies to Jessi’s family and loved ones.
Having said all that, maybe it’s best to say nothing for a bit. Let us grieve and grapple with adjusting to the unfathomable.
Rest in peace, Jessi Combs.