Racer, TV personality, and certified bad-ass car builder Jessi Combs died driving a jet-powered car Tuesday in a land speed-record attempt. The accident took place in the Alvord Desert near Fields, Oregon. Combs was 39.
According to Jalopnik, Combs crashed during a speed-record attempt, which followed a 483-mph shakedown run that ended prematurely in 2018. Combs was no stranger to high-speed runs, having earned the title of "fastest woman on four wheels" after topping 398 mph in the same car, North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, back in 2013.
The incident was first reported by local Oregon media late Tuesday and was confirmed by Combs' teammate, Terry Madden, on Instagram Wednesday morning. Details of the incident remain sketchy, and Madden encouraged people to ignore media reports for the time being.
"(Y)ou are all going to see things on news please believe non(e) of them.. we the family have drafted a release and it will come out today with more proper info," he said in the IG post.
According to Car and Driver, the crash caused a jet-fuel fire in the desert. A report from The Oregonian said Combs's team is trying to recover the car's computers, which could identify what caused the crash.
Madden said that a foundation will be established to "do amazing things in this world and honor her legacy." Combs' family confirmed those plans in a statement issued Wednesday, saying the foundation will "empower women and young girls to follow their dreams."
Combs was known for appearing on TV shows such as "Mythbusters," "All Girls Garage," and "Overhaulin'," but she was far more than just an entertainment personality. She frequently competed in sanctioned motorsports events, including the Baja 1000 and King of Hammers.
Update: We have updated this story to include information regarding Combs' family's plans to honor her legacy, to correct her age, and to include information from both Car and Driver and The Oregonian. We will update this story with more information if the cause of the crash is determined.