Rapid City-born racer, fabricator Jessi Combs killed in jet car crash

FIELDS, Ore. – Renowned racer, automotive fabricator and television host Jessi Combs was killed Aug. 27 while attempting to break her own land speed record. She was 39 years old.

The crash occurred on a dry lake bed in the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. Details have not been released by investigators at this time.

Combs was driving a 52,000 horsepower jet-powered car — dubbed the “North American Eagle” — in an attempt to surpass her 398 mph record. According to Combs’ website, previous practice runs reached speeds of over 483 mph, but mechanical issues prevented those numbers from being officially recorded.

The “Fastest Woman on Four Wheels” was born in Rapid City and graduated from WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming, with a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication. Throughout her career she garnered a number of awards for racing and fabrication, and hosted several television programs including “Overhaulin‘,” “Extreme 4×4” and “All Girls Garage.” She was also a part-time host of “Mythbusters,” and appeared on “Jay Leno’s Garage.

Jessi’s family has issued a statement:

It is with extreme grief, and in celebration of her life that her family and close friends share that race car driver, and TV personality Jessi Combs, passed away in a fatal crash, where she was pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon. The details of the crash have not been released at this time.

Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams. Her drive was infectious, and she served as a role model for young Girls, and Women around the world. People that loved her and followed her became family, all bonded together by adventure and passion.  Her fans adored her, and she lived to inspire them. Jessi’s most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on Earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012. Combs was one of the rare dreamers with the bravery to turn those possibilities into reality, and she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history.

Surrounded by her family and friends at the time of her passing, Jessi lived fearlessly and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched.

Jessi is known for her hosting work on television series including “All Girls Garage”, “Overhaulin’ “, Extreme 4×4 and Autoblog’s “The List”.

Jessi is survived by her Mother Nina (Chuck, niece NIna Alayne) Darrington, Father Jamie (Sandy) Combs, brother Kelly Combs (Cary, Eli, Ethan and Anna), sisters Danielle Theis (Jacin, Justice, Nation), Brother Austin Darrington (Leah, Lane) Kayla Green, Kyrie Darrington, Natasha Darrington

Step sisters Rebekah Hall (son Aaren Kearns), Arielle Hall (son Dru Hanson). And Jessi‘s love Terry Madden and his son Dalton.

A celebration of Jessi’s life in being planned and a foundation is being created to continue her efforts to empower women and young girls to follow their dreams.

More information on the life and career of Jessi Combs can be found on her website, jessicombs.com.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News