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Race Car Driver Jessi Combs Dies at Age 36 in Attempt to Break Land Speed Record

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 02:  Co-host Jessi Combs speaks at the 'Overhaulin' discussion panel during the Discovery Networks/Velocity portion of the 2012 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Professional race car driver Jessi Combs, 36, died Tuesday while attempting to set a new land speed record. 

Per Jeremy Korzeniewski of Autoblog.com, Combs was killed in the Alvord Desert in Oregon. Barney Lerten of KTVZ News Channel 21 first reported the Harney County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call after 4 p.m. local time about the crash.

Combs' family issued a statement included in Korzeniewski's report:

"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."

In an Instagram post dated Aug. 24, Combs indicated she was attempting to reach 619 mph driving the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger—a jet-powered vehicle.

Combs set a women's land speed record in October 2013 when she got the Challenger up to 392.954 mph. The previous record-holder, Lee Breedlove, set the mark of 308.51 mph in 1965. 

In addition to her racing career, Combs worked as a guest host on MythBusters and appeared on the Discovery Channel game show Brake Room.