Jessi Combs was born 27 July 1983 in the Black Hills of Rapid City, SD. With a lifelong desire to become a race car driver, this fearless young lady found a love for speed and its machines at a very young age. Her family explored everything around them and gave her a solid appreciation for off-roading as well as racing in many forms. In addition to her love for everything automotive, Jessi is somewhat of an artist and spends as much time as she can creating with her own hands. She loves metal working, leather craft and photography, and can make almost anything one can dream up. She is an independent and adventurous spirit, boasting, “I will try everything at least twice… I wouldn’t want to be jaded by the first attempt.”
Having turned down a full scholarship to a prominent interior design school, she traveled North America before settling in Denver, CO to pursue a career in snowboarding. This proved more painfully demanding on her physically than she had anticipated and rather decided on a career that involved her love for the throttle pedal and showcased her artistic abilities. She moved to Laramie, WY to attend WyoTech where she studied Collision/Refinishing, Chassis Fabrication, Street RodFabrication, and Trim/Upholstery, graduating at the top of her class with a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication.
Her time and involvement at the trade school led to her first fabrication job when the marketing department hired her and another student by the name of Ben Bright to build a car from the ground up in six months to debut at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association’s (SEMA) show. The car was auctioned for charity and Ms Combs hasn’t looked back since.
While her chosen career path didn’t initially include time on television, she found herself on Overhaulin’ as a guest fabricator and was soon hired as the co-host of Xtreme 4×4, part of the Powerblock on Spike TV; a position she held for four years and 90+ episodes. Together with co-host Ian Johnson, they built everything from race trucks to street trucks and trail rigs to trailers for an audience of millions.
In a widely publicized yet unexplainable accident in 2007, while working in the studio, Jessi was folded in two by a large piece of machinery that had fallen on her, burst fracturing her spine’s L3. The accident should have left her wheelchair bound; but instead, after surgery, bed rest, therapy, eight months and a little help from God, Jessi was granted full medical release. Appreciative of her health and her time with Xtreme 4×4, Jessi chose to move on with her career and in 2008 left the show in pursuit of other opportunities.
The next year was full of appearances on shows like 2 Guys Garage, TruckU, SEMA Show Special, DuplicolorTV, Full Throttle TV, Pirate4x4 TV Live, and Bosch 125. Her on-screen personality was beginning to take shape as she honed her skills as a TV host while maintaining her integrity as a metal fabricator, builder and industrial artist. In 2009 she appeared as a host and builder on the 7th season of Mythbusters to fill in for Kari Byron’s maternity leave.
Recently, the Velocity Channel has been her home for television as she could be found on All Girls Garage and Overhaulin’s 2011’s return to TV as a host and ‘A-Team’ hybrid member. She can currently be seen on The List: 1001 Car Things To Do Before You Die on AOL’s autoblog.com, also airing on the Velocity.
The training associated with these programs has allowed Jessi to become a performance driver for the film and commercial world. She has driven everything from super cars to monster trucks, relics to rally cars, hot rods, two wheels, four wheels and even at times, no wheels. Stunt driving has opened a whole new passion into the arena of possibilities between woman and machine for Jessi.
When it comes to competitive driving, Combs feels right at home in the driver seat. She has raced Ultra4’s King of the Hammers in 2010, 2012, 2013, taking home a spec class win in 2014 as the first female to ever place at any Ultra4 event; she pressed on and wrapped up the season with the National Championship. Finishing the Baja 1000 is winning, although in 2011 taking home a class 10 podium finish is a true landmark in her racing resume. The North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger added Jessi to the team for the 2013 attempt to break the 512 mph Women’s Landspeed World record made in 1976 by Kitty O’neil; to date, Jessi is the fastest woman on 4-wheels holding a record of 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph (the team remains in pursuit for her to become the Fastest Woman on Earth). Early 2015 Combs competed in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all-female rally race that only uses 1960 hand-drawn maps and compass; they pulled 10th place overall and a 1st place finish in the First Participation category. The Race of Gentleman, held by the longstanding Oilers car club, invited Jessi as the first women to compete in their carnival event by racing a 1913 twin engine Model T down the beach; her ability to handle any situation with any car will forever be in the history books.
Jessi is proud of the relationships she has fostered throughout her career and she continues to represent many companies as a brand representative as well as a product expert. These relationships coupled with her skills provided her the opportunity to develop a woman’s line of welding gear (PPE) with Lincoln Electric in order to fill the demand and growth of ladies in the industry. Jessi has joined 8 years of epic 4-wheeling journeys with WARN Industries and proceeds to spread the word about their proven quality with the rest of the world. As a hands on builder, aligning with establishments such as CRC and Industrial Metal Supply only help her mission to express to others what woman are capable of in the shop.
Not known for sitting still, this fast-paced girl is also working on starting her own metal fab shop: “A place where bad ass hot rods, motorcycles, custom trucks, race vehicles, and anything metal will originate with a feminine touch; where chicks can finally have a place to get dirty, be creative, use their skills, explore talents, go fast, and have fun in a comfortable working environment”. Her achievements and dedication to the hands on way of living have parlayed into a new brand that encompasses the lifestyle other passionate woman possess while living a REAL DEAL life.
After publishing her first book in July of 2015, Jessi also became an established author. Titled “Joey and the Chopper Boys”, the book follows the story of a little girl who loves motorcycles, yet is uprooted from her small town and has to move into the city. Joey finds herself without friends and the path to make new ones proves difficult.
Kayla Kouene’s illustrations deliver emotion straight from the page being directly related to the ups and downs of being a girl in a boy’s world. The story written by Jessi Combs shares many positive messages about taking life into your own hands and never giving up.
DRIVER = RACER
With a lifelong dream to become a driver, this fearless young lady found a love for speed and its machines at a very young age. That passion has brought Jessi to some remarkable achievements in her life which have empowered millions globally to recognize her as one of the best female role models in the world of motorsports. Men love her skills and looks while women are fascinated and drawn in by her capacity to rock it out in a man’s world.
A talented athlete as well, Jessi has trained in multiple forms of driving such as Drifting, Stunt Driving, Performance Racing, Evasive Driving, and off-road among many others. This has allowed Jessi to become a performance driver for the film and commercial world where she has driven everything from super cars to monster trucks, relics to rally cars, hot rods, two wheels, four wheels and even at times, no wheels. Driving has opened a whole new passion into the arena of possibilies for her between human and machine.
When it comes to competitive driving, Combs feels right at home in the driver seat, like she was born for it. Her ability to keep a low heart rate, remain calm and methodically think through high stress situations is a quality attribute to any team. Jessi is sure to be racing in multiple motorsport facets to not only win, yet also in attempt to prove a woman’s worth behind the wheel. Her desire to become a professional driver resonates with the fans, making her a person they can vicariously live through as well as an inspirational individual who is continuously breaking the mold and challenges them to push their own limits.
Jessi Combs Racing Career Highlights
2018 – Landspeed – NAE – new top speed of 483.227 mph
2018 – Gambler 500 Mini Moto Enduro – 2nd – ironman 100 miles
2018 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – Stock class – 3rd overall Every Man Challenge
2017 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 12th – Ultra4 Unlimited class
2016 – Landspeed – NAE – new top speed of 477.59 mph
2016 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – EMC Modified Class
2015 – Rallye Aicha des Gazelles – 1st – First Participation – 10th overall
2015 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 7
2014 – Ultra 4 National Championship – 1st – Spec Class
2014 – Ultra 4 Western Region Series – 1st – Spec Class
2014 – Ultra 4 American Rock Sports Challenge – 3rd – Spec Class
2014 – Ultra 4 Glen Helen Grand Prix – 2nd – Spec Class
2014 – Ultra 4 Stampede – 1st – Legends Class
2014 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – Spec Class
2013 – Set world land speed record – Fastest Woman on 4-Wheels – 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph
2011 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 10
Way back in 1976, Kitty O’Neil set a driving record as the fastest woman at a mind blowing 512 mph. In 2013 the North American Eagle (NAE) team added Jessi as the driver in attempt of breaking that long standing historical record. To date, Jessi is the Fastest Woman on 4-Wheels holding a record of 398 mph with a top speed of 483 mph.
The team remains in pursuit for Combs to become the Fastest Woman on Earth. The overall mission of the NAE Supersonic Speed Challenger is simple: to bring the world land speed record back to North America. With an all volunteer team of engineers, technicians, mechanics and computer geeks, they currently have a vehicle ready to break the 763 mph world land speed record set on October 15, 1997 by the British.
The jet car has made 49 test runs on 12 different occasions. When the aerodynamics team gives the go ahead, enough funds have been raised (sponsors needed), BLM grants the permits, and mother nature is good to us; we will set a date for the next attempt at the women’s record, the single engine record and the world record.
King of the Hammers (KOH) is considered to be the most brutal one-day desert race in the world, and rightfully so with a mix of highspeed desert, gnarly rock sections and a mere 20% finishing rate. Racing in 2010 and 2012 – 2015, Jessi took home a spec class win in 2014 to become the first female to ever place at any Ultra4 event, and pressed on to wrap up the season with the 2014 National Championship.
Savyy Off Road has established the winning combination in the KOH Every Man Challenge (EMC). Their 4500 and 4600 Jeeps have dominated every race by securing 1st place overall since the class inception. Gerald Lee and John Currie developed the formula of bringing success to all our sponsors, which in turn generates the benefit of brand awareness to all partners.
Finishing the legendary Baja 1000 is a massive feat of its own and a true testament of determination, skill and balls. This gloablly known event is labeled as the toughest race of its kind. Every year, hundreds of teams from around the world made up of the best of the best amongst the newest of the new, make their attempt at conquering the Baja terrain. No two courses are alike and at high speeds in the midst of the desert, anything can happen. The appeal between the beauty of Baja and the danger that lurks around every turn is what the risk takers come back for year upon year.
Finishing mutliple times is winning, yet podium positions in the 2011 class 10 and the 2015 class 7 are true landmarks on Combs’ racing resume. The 2015 BAJA 1000 will go down in history as one of the most difficult courses in recent history. After Jessi drove 500 miles (61% of the total course), spent 24 hours in the car including a 5 hour crash/repair downtime (69% of time on course), only a 4 cyl Ecotec engine, with Paige Sohren as driver of record (who drove the 1st and 3rd legs of the race); the all-girl driving-team took home 2nd place in class 7.
While Jessi will always keep her schedule open for Baja, just in case a ringer opportunity pops up last minute, she has big plans for 2017 that will go down in the books as one of the bravest moves she’s ever made…. just think female version of Ivan Stewart.
After completing a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication at Wyotech, Jessi launched herself into the automotive market and has completed many high-profile projects since then. From building cars for the iconic SEMA show in Las Vegas, to building cars at the SEMA show, on television, and in her own shop. No matter her career path, she owes everything to her skills with tools and hands-on training. Without them, she would be just another cute girl.
She has a small fabrication shop in California and may take on new projects. She continues to fabricate on a regular basis and works with a large number of companies and brands to achieve the highest quality work. Whether it be cars, motorcycles, art or furniture, she can make it happen.
Jessi works with a range of companies and their products throughout USA and the world due to her unique skill set and interest in all things rad. She fully understands the brands she represents, as she uses the products and services herself, particularly in her Californian shop. She is proud to be a representative and ambassador for the following brands.
Empowering people in the automotive and industrial arts industries is a mission in Jessi’s life. By simply doing what she loves best, she quickly learned the impact she has on her fans, both male and female. There is never a pause in her life when it comes to reaching out and showing people, especially women, that they too can get dirty, go fast, and have fun while still being the beautiful, nurturing creatures God created them to be.
Jessi’s story is very inspirational to most anyone who has the pleasure of hearing it. Large and small companies, ranging from manufacturing to medical to automotive to education, seek her out to speak words of encouragement to the people of their organizations. Her years of experience in performing for the masses allows her to be a natural in the spotlight when delivering to groups of all sizes. With an extensive background in building, racing, branding, television, travel/adventure, and demolishing stereotypes, be it stand alone on stage or in a symposium setting, Jessi’s message will leave a lasting impression.
Q: How did you get into working on cars?
A: Passion. I love to drive, build things and go fast… cars are all encompassing.
Q: How did you get into TV?
A: Skill… mixed with a little personality ;D… tho my skill sets have carried me a long way.
Q: Why did you leave Xtreme4x4?… and All Girls Garage…. and Overhaulin’…
A: It was time to move on.
Q: What was it like working on Mythbusters?
A: Life changing experience! Such a talented, smart, funny and motivating group of people to work with.
Q: How is your back?
A: What L1-L4 Vertebrae fusion? 😉 I have more good days then bad days, tho’ it doesn’t seem to slow me down in achieving my goals.
Q: What’s it like working with Chip Foose?
A: I am truly blessed. I consider him to be The Most Amazing Man in the World.
Q: Do you really know how to weld?
A: Yes – Otherwise I would never have been able to develop a line of welding gear for ladies if I didn’t know there was a need for it.
Q: Alright, can I get the full story?
A: Of course! Read my life story here.
Q. I’m a chick looking to get involved in the automotive industry. How can I do that?
A: Check out The Real Deal (www.iamtherealdeal.com)
Q: Can I book you for my event, function, or conference?
“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, where she was pursuing 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.
Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams. Her drive was 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.
Surrounded by her family and friends at the time of her passing, Jessi lived fearlessly, and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched.
A celebration of Jessi’s life in being planned and a foundation is being created to continue her efforts to empower women and young girls to follow their dreams.”
RIP Jessi. You will forever be missed, and remembered for the shining star you are in the automotive world and beyond!
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