Jet-car speed racer Jessi Combs, known by fans as the “fastest woman on four wheels", has died in a crash in Oregon’s Alvord Desert while trying to break a speed record, local authorities said on Wednesday.
Combs, 39, died Tuesday afternoon while racing in a dry lake bed in a desert in remote Harney County, sheriff’s Lt. Brian Needham said in a statement. The cause is under investigation.
Terry Madden, Combs’ teammate on the North American Eagle racing team, said in an Instagram post on Wednesday that he was heartbroken and added a video collage of photos and video clips of Combs with various team members.
Combs was widely known in the niche sport of jet-car racing and was attempting to break the Women’s Land Speed Record of 823 kph set in 1976 by Kitty O’Neil when she died. Jet cars are race cars propelled by jet engines.
She currently held the record as the fastest woman on four wheels—O’Neil piloted a three-wheeled vehicle—for a 640.5 kph performance in 2013 and had driven even faster in follow-up runs, but mechanical problems prevented those from making the record books.