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Jet-car speed racer Jessi Combs posthumously becomes The World's Fastest Woman

Story by Douglas Jones, KGW Staff

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Published on September 18, 2021 6:55 AM
HARNEY COUNTY, Oregon. — Jet-car racer Jessi Combs, who died last summer in Oregon while trying to beat a land speed record, has posthumously become The World's Fastest Woman, according to Guinness World Records.

"The fastest land speed record (female) is 841.338 kph (522.783 mph), and was achieved by Jessi Combs (USA) in the Alvord Desert, Oregon, USA, on 27 August 2019," the Guinness announcement reads. "Jessi is the first person to break this record in more than 40 years."

Combs, 39, was driving her famed North American Eagle, a 56-foot-long jet-powered car, when she died. Her goal was to top the current women's land speed record of 512.7 miles an hour.

And now it's official: She shattered the record that Kitty O'Neil had set in the Alvord Desert in 1976.

In an Instagram post just before her death, Combs made it clear that...


Jessica Combs was an American professional racer, television personality, and metal fabricator. She set a women's land speed class record in 2013 and broke her own record in 2016. She was known as 'the fastest woman on four wheels'. She co-hosted the Spike TV show Xtreme 4x4 for more than 90 episodes from 2005 to 2009. Other television shows she appeared on included Overhaulin', Mythbusters, The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, All Girls Garage, and Science Channel's How to Build... Everything in 2016.

Combs died after crashing a jet-powered high-speed race car at the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon while attempting to better her four-wheel land speed record. She was posthumously awarded the female land-speed world record by Guinness World Records in June 2020.

Combs was born in Rockerville, South Dakota, on July 27, 1980, the daughter of Jamie Combs and Nina Darrington. The family moved to Piedmont, South Dakota, when she was two years old. She had three siblings, Kelly Combs, Austin Darrington, Danielle Theis, and two stepsiblings, Rebekah Hall and Arielle Hall. Combs' great-grandmother was Nina DeBow, a jazz pianist who raced Stanley Steamers.

She graduated from Stevens High School in 1998. Combs graduated from WyoTech in 2004, where she attended the Collision & Refinishing Core Program, the Street Rod Fabrication and Custom Fabrication, and High Performance Powertrain programs. Following her graduation, Combs's first professional job came after the WyoTech marketing department hired her and another student to build a car from the ground up in six months to debut at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association's show.


Combs hosted the SpikeTV television show Xtreme 4x4, a part of the Powerblock, for four years. Following an on-set accident, Combs announced in February 2008 that she would leave the show. In 2009, Combs appeared in twelve episodes of the seventh season of MythBusters while Kari Byron was on maternity leave. She also appeared on Overhaulin'.

Starting in 2011, Combs hosted the Autoblog series, The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, alongside co-host Patrick McIntyre.

From 2011 to 2014, Combs served as one of the hosts of All Girls Garage on Velocity . The basis of the show was women repairing and upgrading new and classic automobiles.

In 2012, Combs became a co-host with Chris Jacobs for the sixth season of Overhaulin's re-launch on the Velocity and Discovery channels.

In 2018, Combs appeared on the Discovery channel panel show Break Room.

Also in 2018, Combs appeared on an episode of Jay Leno's Garage as Jay Leno's guest driver of a Bugatti Chiron.


Combs died on August 27, 2019 after crashing a jet-powered car while attempting to break a land speed record as part of the North American Eagle Project on a dry lake bed in the Alvord Desert, Oregon. The crash was caused by a failure of a front wheel, likely caused by hitting an object in the desert, which caused the front wheel assembly to collapse at a speed of 522.783 mph . The official cause of death was determined to be 'blunt force trauma to the head' occurring prior to the fire that engulfed the race vehicle after the crash.

Combs' final run across Oregon's Alvord Desert on August 27 reached 522.783 mph , before her crash, which broke the existing women's land speed record of 512.71 mph , set in 1976 by Kitty O'Neil at the same location. This record was verified by Guinness World Records in June 2020

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