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TV host and 'fastest woman on four wheels,' Jessi Combs, killed in crash at age 39

The former "XTreme 4x4" co-host was trying to break her own land-speed record.
/ Source: TODAY

The family of Jessi Combs and the racing community are mourning the loss of an "amazing spirit" after the racer and television personality died at 39 in a crash on Tuesday.

Combs was in a jet-powered car in Oregon's Alvord Desert, attempting to break the four-wheeled women's land-speed record of 398 miles per hour she set in 2013 that earned her the moniker of "fastest woman on four wheels."

Racer and television personality Jessi Combs died at 39 in a crash while trying to break her own land-speed record in a jet-powered car.
Racer and television personality Jessi Combs died at 39 in a crash while trying to break her own land-speed record in a jet-powered car. JessiCombs/Instagram

Her partner Terry Madden, a member of her team who witnessed the crash, confirmed her death in a statement to TODAY.

"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. The details of the crash have not been released at this time."

In an emotional Instagram post on Wednesday, Madden shared a series of photos and videos of him together with Combs.

"So I don’t know how to say any of this but it all needs (to be) said. I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman @TheJessiCombs, she was truly my unicorn and I enjoyed every single minute that I had with her,'' Madden wrote. "She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know. Unfortunately we lost her yesterday in a horrific accident.

"I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!! I’m not ok, but she is right here keeping (me) going—I made her a promise that if this didn’t go well that I would make sure and do good with it, please help me with that."

He added that people are "going to see things on news" and to "please believe (none) of them."

"Please donate to nothing. I know there will be people (trying,) we are finishing the documentary as she wished and the world will know the truth and her foundation will use those funds to do amazing things in this world and make her legacy live on properly,'' he continued.

The Harney County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday about a fatal crash on a lakebed in the southeast part of the county, local TV station KTVZ reported. The office did not release the name of the deceased pending notification of family.

Combs, who co-hosted the Spike TV show "Xtreme 4x4" and appeared on "Mythbusters," "All Girls Garage," "Overhaulin'" and a host of other shows, posted a photo of herself with her jet car on Instagram three days ago.

"It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire... those who are willing, are those who achieve great things,'' she wrote. "People say I’m crazy. I say thank you ;)"

In their statement to TODAY, Combs' family added, "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. 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."

MotorTrend Network and its parent company, Discovery, shared in a separate statement with TODAY, "The Discovery and MotorTrend family is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Jessi Combs. She was a friend and colleague, an icon in the industry, and an undeniable force of nature who left an indelible mark on the car world. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones."

Combs, a South Dakota native, was also a skilled welder and metal fabricator who had a degree in custom automotive fabrication from WyoTech in Wyoming, according to her website. She also was an accomplished competitive driver, which included becoming the first female to ever place at any Ultra4 event five years ago.