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Racer, Fabricator, and Role Model Jessi Combs Killed In Land Speed Record Attempt

The automotive industry and the world lost one of its great inspirations yesterday in a tragic jet-car crash on the Alvord Desert in Oregon. The driver, Jessi Combs, was attempting to beat her personal land speed record of 398 miles per hour in the North American Eagle when undisclosed circumstances resulted in the accident. Her death was confirmed by teammates Wednesday morning and verified by local authorities. Jessi was 36 years old.

After her previous land speed runs, Jessi quickly became known as the fastest woman on four wheels, but she was also so much more than that. She was a fabricator, an enthusiast, and a representative of the American Welding Society. She made appearances on numerous shows including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin, Mythbusters, and Xtreme 4×4, becoming well-loved for her fearless spirit and larger than life personality. Combs was also a skilled off-road racer and participated in Baja as well as King of the Hammers. She even took home a first-place title, earning her the nickname “Queen of The Hammers.” These accomplishments are impressive by any measure, but they were especially inspiring to the countless women pursuing their livelihoods and passions in the male-dominated automotive field. Jessi will be missed, and we offer our condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.