Race car driver Jessi Combs, who earned the title of the “fastest woman on four wheels” after she set a record with a jet-powered car, has died. She crashed the vehicle, officials said, while trying to beat a land speed record.
Combs died Tuesday in Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said. She was 39.
“She was a brilliant & to[p]-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example,” said Adam Savage, former co-host of the TV show “Mythbusters.”
Combs appeared in multiple episodes of the show, while host Kari Byron was on maternity leave. She also appeared as a host in shows such as “All Girls Garage” and “Overhaulin’.”
In October, Combs set a new top speed of 483.2 mph in a shakedown run.
On Tuesday, she was attempting to go faster when she crashed.
“On August 27, 2019 at approximately 4:00PM the Harney County 911 Center received a call reporting that a jet car attempting to break a land speed record on the Alvord Desert had crashed leading to one fatality,” the sheriff’s office said.
Her resume was full of firsts: the first woman to place at any Ultra4 event; the first woman to compete in The Race of Gentlemen event.
Valerie Thompson, the first woman to exceed 300 mph on a motorcycle and the “fastest woman on two wheels” expressed grief on Twitter, posting photos of the two of them together.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I pass along the news that Jessi Combs passed away yesterday while attempting to break a land speed record,” she wrote. “I also had the chance to attempt this record but it wasn’t my turn… this hits home for me. Godspeed, Jessi Combs.”
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