Industry Icon Jessi Combs Killed in Land-Speed Record Attempt
A beloved member of the MotorTrend family gone too soon at the age of 39.
Fabricator, racer, and automotive-industry personality Jessi Combs was killed Tuesday afternoon while attempting a land-speed record in the Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon. She was driving the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, a repurposed F-104 fighter jet with 52,000 hp. Jessi has piloted the car to past records, including the women's four-wheeled speed record in 2013, where she ran 393 mph. Back in 2016, she would beat the record again, running 440 mph and cementing her title as the "Fastest Woman on Four Wheels"; then in 2018 she hit a whopping 483.227 mph during a shakedown run of the car.
According to a report on local News Channel 21 KTVZ, the Harney County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call just after 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 27. The sheriff's office, along with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are currently investigating the crash. "The cause [of the crash] is undetermined at this time," said Brian Needham, lieutenant undersheriff of the Harney County Sheriff's Department. "The race team is currently removing the onboard computers." A representative from BLM stated that there were no adverse weather conditions during the record attempt.
"She went out on her terms," said Jonny Mill, close friend of Jessi. "I find solace in that. Just crazy and hard to accept." Jessi's teammate Terry Madden was the first person at the scene of the crash and confirmed her passing in an Instagram post early Wednesday morning with a caption that read: "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 none 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 every one 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 (already 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."
The Discovery and MotorTrend Family is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Jessi Combs. She was a friend and colleague, an icon in the industry, and an undeniable force of nature who left an indelible mark on the car world. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.