Jessie Combs dies Attempting to break her own Land Speed Record

Updated: May 1

The fatal crash of Jessi Combs

Officials have identified what they believe to be the cause of the fiery crash that killed "MythBusters" and "Overhaulin'" host Jessi Combs in August 2019. Combs, known as the "fastest woman on four wheels," died instantly on a dry lake bed at Alvord Desert, Oregon while attempting to set a land speed record in a jet-powered vehicle. Combs was killed by "blunt force trauma to the head," according to investigators. She died before fire engulfed the race vehicle.

"Based on the evidence collected and examined at the scene of the crash and the evidence recovered by the North American Race Team it appears that there was a mechanical failure of the front wheel, most likely caused from striking an object on the desert," the release read. "The front wheel failure led to the front wheel assembly collapsing. The front wheel failure occurred at speeds approaching 550 miles per hour." This record run would have made Jessi Combs the fastest overall female land speed record holder breaking the land Speed Record of 512 mph set in 1976 by Kitty O'Neil. Jessie Combs was 39.


With a lifelong desire to become a race car driver, Combs' record-setting run was made on the Oregon Alvord Desert, a 13 mile long dry lake bed, on October 9, 2013. When it comes to competitive driving, Combs felt right at home in the driver seat and became the fastest woman on 4-wheels. The vehicle used to break the record is the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger producing 52,000 hp. The land speed record vehicle started life as an scraped F-104 Lockheed Starfighter aircraft.


Interestingly, when the land speed vehicle was actually a jet fighter it served as a chase plane for the X-15 experimental jet and the SR-71 Blackbird. The jet car weighs 13,000 pounds and is 56 feet long from nose to tail and 7 feet across at its widest point. Power comes from a GE LM-1500 turbojet engine.


The jet engine sucks down 40 gallons of fuel per minute at idle and when running full bore requires 80 gallons of fuel per minute. With the afterburner activated, the land speed record vehicle needs 90 gallons of fuel per minute. The vehicle was originally developed to achieve much higher speeds and was modified to be run as a "car" with four wheels under FIA rules for Combs' run.

The vehicle was fitted with four wheels made from billet aluminum. Ultimately, the vehicle hopes to break the overall land speed record of 761 mph sometime in 2014 as a three-wheeled vehicle.

On September 7, 2016, Combs set a new top speed of 477.59 mph (768.61 km/h). Combs also had plans to chase the overall female speed record of 512 mph.

Jessie Combs was also a 2014 Ultra 4 Spec Class National Champion with Falken Tire. In 2016 she took 1st place in King of the Hammers with the Savvy Off Road team in the EMC Modified Class and a 2017 12th place finish in the Unlimited Class driving the same Stock Mod car. In 2004, she graduated from WyoTech in the Collision & Refinishing Core Program, as well as the Street Rod Fabrication and Custom Fabrication and High Performance Powertrain programs, all at the top of her class.

In 2009, Combs appeared in twelve episodes of the seventh season of MythBusters while Kari Byron was on maternity leave. Combs hosted the 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.

While her chosen career path didn't initially include time on television, from October 2011- October 2014 Jessie Combs served as one of the hosts of All Girls Garage on Velocity. The basis of the show is females repairing and upgrading new and classic automobiles. Her on-screen personality took shape as she honed her skills as a TV host while maintaining her integrity as a metal fabricator, builder and industrial artist. In May, 2012, Combs became a co-host and a guest fabricator with Chris Jacobs for the new sixth season of Overhaulin's re-launch on the Velocity and Discovery Channels.

The training associated with her film career has allowed Jessie to become a performance driver for the film and commercial industry. Jessie was also working towards starting her own metal fabrication shop.


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