While attempting to beat her 2013 land speed record of 398 mph, professional racer Jessi Combs crashed her 52,000 horsepower jet-powered car in Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon and died.
According to a biography from Comb’s team partner North American Eagle, Combs broke the previous women’s four-wheeled land speed record, setting a speed of 398 mph in 2013 with the same jet-powered North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, modeled around a decommissioned F-104 fighter jet.
Comb’s team announced the racer had set a new top speed of 483.227 mph in 2018 during a commemorative “shakedown run” for North American Eagle co-founder Ed Shadle, who had died of cancer. Comb’s met her top-speed in the jet-powered car before a panel broke from the car and flew into the engine intake forcing a stop to the run. She described the mechanical failure as an unfortunate end to an otherwise successful shakedown run for the land speed contender.
The 36-year-old Combs had alluded to efforts at setting another record in a recent Instagram post from two weeks ago.
Terry Madden, a member on Comb’s team confirmed the accident and Comb’s death by Instagram post Wednesday morning.
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So I don’t know how to say any of this but it all needs said. 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. Unfortunately we lost her yesterday in a horrific accident, I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!! I’m not ok, but she is right here keeping my going-I made her a promise that if this didn’t go well that I would make sure and do good with it, please help me with that, you are all going to see things on news please believe non of them.. we the family have drafted a release and it will come out today with more proper info, but I was just woke up by the media tracking me down and I need everyone of her true friends to do what she would want “take a deep breath, relax” and do good things with this. Please donate to nothing, I know there will be people try, we are finishing the documentary as she wished and the world will know the truth and her foundation will use those funds to do amazing things in this world and make her legacy live on properly. In the coming days her family and I will get the proper channels put together that you can then donate to that foundation but until you hear it from me wait please-I don’t want some asshole profiting off this (all ready had one try to sell us a video)… . . Love you all and thank you all for being such amazing friends to her, she dedicated her life to helping support others dreams and I promise I will continue that.
“She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know,” Madden’s post read.
Madden described his initial response as one of the first on seen after the crash and said the team did everything they could to save Combs.
Madden’s post went on to mention someone had tried to profit off the news of Combs’ death, and Madden warned Combs’ supporters not to be duped into donating to any commemorative funds for Combs until the team has had time to prepare a foundation for her.
Combs had previously appeared on television shows such including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin, Jay Leno’s Garage, and Mythbusters. She had reportedly been involved in a number of projects as well, including a line of women’s welding equipment and a documentary, which Madden said would be completed in her memory.
Combs had competed in a variety of races and her website cites a number of career highlights, beginning with a second place Baja 1000 finish in 2011, and building on her career with victories at various Ultra4 races, including the 2016 victory at the Ultra 4 King of the Hammers race, earning her the title of the races first “Queen of the Hammers.”
Combs’ last effort in the Alvord Dessert was one of the many land-speed attempts made in that desert by her and other racers. Another racer, Kitty O’Neil set a record in Alvord of 512.7 mph in 1976 in a three-wheeled vehicle. O’Neil died of Pnuemonia in November of last year at 72-years-old.