Following the August death of TV personality and race driver Jessi Combs, nicknamed the “fastest woman on four wheels," authorities have confirmed the fatal crash was caused by a failure with the front wheel on her jet-powered land-speed record car.
After a lengthy investigation, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office reportedly told TMZ on Monday that Combs’ car likely struck an unknown object, causing the failure of the wheel’s assembly which led to a complete and total loss of control. She was attempting a land-speed record the day of her death and supposedly reached a top speed of 550 miles per hour before her car came apart at-speed.
The wreck occurred at the Alvord Desert dry lake bed in southern Oregon while Combs was behind the wheel of the North American Eagle Super Sonic Speed Challenger, a 52,000-horsepower turbine-jet-powered car. She crashed trying to eclipse her previous speed record of 440 mph as well as another previous female benchmark of 512 mph set by Kitty O’Neil. Combs had attempted to beat these benchmarks in the past, most notably in October 2013 when she hit top speeds of 398 mph and 483 mph in subsequent attempts in the same vehicle. However, mechanical problems prevented her from accomplishing these feats.
Following the tragic incident, local authorities immediately opened up an investigation to determine the cause of the disastrous crash. Due to the massive damage sustained when the Lockheed F-104-based jet car burst into flames, the probe was delayed. Officers further indicated the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma to the head, adding that Combs died immediately.
A former host of MythBusters, Overhaulin', and All Girls Garage among many others, Combs was a professed lover of speed and automobiles who was just 39 when she passed away.