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Jessi Combs, a well-known racer and television star, died Tuesday attempting to break her own land-speed record in Oregon. She was 39.
"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, as she pursued setting a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon," a spokesperson for Combs family tells Yahoo Entertainment. "The details of the crash have not been released at this time."
Combs, dubbed the "fastest woman on four wheels," hosted shows including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin’ and a season of Discovery's MythBusters. Last year, she appeared in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage. She was a performance driver for films and commercials, but her passion was competitive driving.
"Jessi’s bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of her dreams inspired everyone who met her. Her drive and spirit were infectious, and she served as a role model for young girls and women around the world," the family's statement continues. "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."
Combs was surrounded by family and friends at the time of her passing. "Jessi lived fearlessly and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched," the family concludes.
In 2013, Combs broke the four-wheeled women’s land speed record at nearly 393 mph in her 52,000-horsepower, 56-foot-long, North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger. In 2016, she broke her own record at 440 mph. Both accomplishments were on the dried lake bed of the Alvord Desert. Last year's attempt to break her record ended prematurely, although she hit a top speed of 483 mph prior to mechanical troubles.
In an Instagram post three days ago, she shared she was aiming for 619 mph in the jet car.
Combs is survived by her parents, siblings, step-siblings, and love Terry Madden. He shared news of the "horrific accident" on Instagram Wednesday, writing, "I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!!"
A celebration of her life in being planned and a foundation is being created to continue her efforts to empower women and young girls to follow their dreams.
[Editor's note: Yahoo Entertainment has corrected the story to show Combs was 39, not 36, per the Associated Press.]
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