“The Fastest Woman on 4 Wheels” Jessi Combs was tragically killed on August 27th in a crash during a land speed record attempt. Her passing has sent shock waves through the automotive community. Jessi was not just a driver, but a master fabricator, TV and YouTube personality, and so much more.
Jessi came from humble beginnings, born and raised in South Dakota. She burst on to the automotive scene after graduating from WyoTech, when her and another student were given 6 months to build a car for SEMA. Following that success, she landed a job as a co-host on Spike TV’s Xtreme 4×4 in 2005. The show was centered around building and modifying vehicles for off-road usage. Following a severe accident while filming for the show that could have left her paralyzed, Jessi decided to leave Xtreme 4×4 in 2008.
Jessi’s career as a television personality took off following her departure. She began showing up all over automotive related programs. Truck U, 2 Guys Garage, and Full Throttle TV were some of the shows that she appeared in. Jessi also filled in for Kari Byron on Mythbusters in 2009 during her maternity leave. Then she found a home on the Velocity channel. She was the creator of All Girls Garage, and served as host for the return Overhaulin in 2011.
More recently, she has worked for Autoblog on the show The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, which involved her and her co-host completing the ultimate automotive bucket list.
When she wasn’t in front of the camera, Jessi was behind the wheel. She competed in many different off-road endurance races, from the King of Hammers to the Baja 1000. In 2013, she signed on with North American Eagle to drive their jet powered land speed vehicle. Jessi became the fastest woman on 4 wheels with an official speed of 398.954mph at the Alvord Desert in Oregon. She achieved over 483mph last year but mechanical issues prevented her from making an official run. She was attempting to become the fastest woman in the world and surpass 619mph, from an Instagram post earlier this week.
She was also an advocate for women. She showed that women do not need to just be the host of a show, they can participate also. She worked to break down the barriers for women in motorsports. Lincoln Electric partnered with her to offer a line of women’s welding gear.
The automotive and off-road communities have truely lost a legend. Rest in peace Jessi Combs.