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Earth's 'Fastest Woman' Dies in Terrifying Crash

Jessi Combs was only 39
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2019 5:12 PM CDT
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Jessi Combs.   (YouTube/ENews)

(Newser) – "The fastest woman on four wheels" is gone. Extraordinary speed racer and TV personality Jessi Combs, 36, died Tuesday trying to top her own land-speed record, NBC News reports. She perished in what one teammate calls "a horrific accident" in the Alvord Desert in Oregon. "I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!!" writes the teammate, Terry Madden, on Instagram. "I'm not ok, but she is right here keeping me going." Details are scant, but Jalopnik reports that Combs was driving a 52,000 horsepower jet car roughly 90 miles south of Burns. The Harney County Sheriff's Office got the call a little after 4pm and is investigating the accident.

Combs was called the "fastest woman on four wheels" after establishing a 398mph record in 2013 in her North American Supersonic Speed Challenger, per Road & Track; she also hit 483mph in an unofficial 2018 run hindered by mechanical issues. Her family says Combs' dream was to become Earth's fastest woman ever—a 512mph record set by Kitty O'Neil in 1976 in a three-wheeled rocket car, per Buzzfeed. Also known as a vehicle builder and fabricator, Combs hosted shows including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin', and Mythbusters. "Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams," says her family, who adds that "she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history." (Read more obituary stories.)

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