© 2024 KGOU
Photo of Lake Murray State Park showing Tucker Tower and the marina in the background
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Fatal Crash, Loved Ones Remember Racer Jessi Combs: 'She Was A Badass'

Racer and TV host Jessi Combs died in a jet car crash on Tuesday attempting to break her own land speed record of 398 mph.
James Lemke Jr
Racer and TV host Jessi Combs died in a jet car crash on Tuesday attempting to break her own land speed record of 398 mph.

Loved ones of Jessi Combs, a well-known racer and a host of the popular science-themed television show Mythbusters, are speaking out days after she died attempting to break her own land speed record. She was 39 years old.

"I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman," Terry Madden, a member of Combs' team said in an Instagram post. "She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know."

Madden goes on to say he was the first on the scene of what he described as a "horrific accident" and that he and others did "everything humanly possible" to revive her.

Adam Savage, a co-host on Mythbusters, described Combs in a tweetas "brilliant," adding "we are all lesser for her absence."

"I'm so so sad, Jessi Combs has been killed in a crash. She was a brilliant & too-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example. She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence."

In a statement from the Harney County Sheriff's Office, emergency dispatchers received a call around 4 p.m. local time Tuesday reporting a jet car crash in southeast Oregon's Alvord Desert, approximately 90 miles south of the city of Burns.

"Harney county deputies identified the driver as Jessica (Jessi) Michelle Combs," according to the statement signed by Lieutenant Brian Neeham. "Jessi Combs was pronounced dead at the scene."

The incident remains under investigation and authorities have yet to determine the cause of the crash.

According to the automotive website Jalopnik, Combs was driving a "52,000 horsepower jet-powered car." Combs earned the moniker of "the fastest woman on four wheels" after a 2013 record she set "breaking 398 mph in that same North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger," according to the site.

In a Facebook post by Ultra4 Racing, her racing team sponsor, Combs is described this way: "Jessi was a smiling, energetic, vibrant part of the Ultra4 family ... She was and always will be The Real Deal."

That Facebook post included what the group says was a statement from the Combs family.

"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," the statement says.

The family said a foundation will be created to continue her efforts to "empower women and young girls" to follow their ambitions.

"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," the statement said.

According to her personal website, Combs was born in Rapid City, S.D., and had a lifelong affinity for acceleration and adrenaline. "This fearless young lady found a love for speed and its machines at a very young age," the site reads.

She turned down a scholarship to study interior design, took up a career in snowboarding for a time before earning a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication.

She eventually landed a few gigs on TV, according to her bio, on the car-themed reality show like Overhaulin' as a guest fabricator and co-host of Xtreme 4x4, a show about redesigning vehicles to make them into off-road rigs.

By 2009, she appeared in the 7th season of Mythbusters as a fill-in host for Kari Byron who was on maternity leave.

Kari Byron tweeted that Combs was "a badass"

"So sad to hear about Jessi. She was a badass. Always pushing limits. Sending smiles into the universe for her."

One of the Combs' final twitter posts, seem to acknowledge that people didn't always agree with her career pursuits. She said some may think she was "a little crazy" but to her haters, she simply responded: "I say thank you ;)"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.