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Remembering Welder and Competitive Driver Jessi Combs

Remembering Welder and Competitive Driver Jessi Combs

Welder, competitive driver, and television star Jessi Combs passed away on August 27th 2019 at the age of 36 when her jet powered car, called the North American Eagle, crashed in a dry lake bed in Oregon. Combs was attempting to break her own land speed record. 

Jessi Combs welding

Combs, known as the fastest woman on four wheels, had a passion for competitive driving while also pursuing a celebrated career in welding and fabricating after graduating from Wyoming Tech at the top of her class with a degree in custom automotive fabrication. Combs starred on a series of popular television shows, including All Girls Garage, Overhaulin’ and a season of Discovery's MythBusters, all while making more room for women in the welding field. 

How Jessi Combs Fabricated Her Own Way

Combs could have pursued any number of careers, including a full scholarship for an interior design program. However, she always loved creating with her hands, merging her artistic talent with the possibilities of welding and fabrication. 

When Combs enrolled in an automotive fabrication program, she excelled in modifying hot rods, and even created a car from scratch with a fellow member of her program. Her prowess and creativity in welding led to her success on the shows All Girls Garage and Overhaulin’, but she never forgot the simplicity of working in her own welding shop. 

Combs opened her own welding shop that makes a space specifically for women to weld together. She shared, it’s “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.”

As Combs inspired more women to get involved in the welding field, partnerships with key welding companies followed, including Lincoln Electric where Combs developed a line of welding gloves, jackets, and helmets designed to fit women. Combs frequented welding shows, demonstrated products, and promoted the possibilities in the welding field. 

Jessi Combs and Her Drive to Compete

In one of her final Instagram posts showing the engine of her American Eagle jet car, Jessi Combs shared, “It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire… those who are willing, are those who achieve great things. People say I’m crazy. I say thank you. ;)” 

Jessi Combs Driving

Racing and competitive driving drove Combs who wasn’t content just to fabricate race cars. She wanted to compete, and to win. Among her many racing accomplishments, she 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.” 

Tributes to Jessi Combs

Adam Savage, a co-star on the Mythbusters show shared the following tribute, “She was a brilliant & top-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator,  & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example. She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence.”

Kari Bryon, another star from Mythbusters that Combs had filled in for during her maternity leave, shared, “She was a badass. Always pushing limits. Sending smiles into the universe for her.”

At the time of her death a documentary crew was making a film about Jessi Combs, and the film crew still has plans to complete it. 

Combs leaves behind a legacy of hard work, innovation, and courage, striving for excellence in all that she did while also using her popularity for the benefit of others, especially women in the welding field. From launching her own welding shop to creating welding gear designed for women, Combs brought joy and new possibilities to the welding field. 

Do you have a tribute to share in memory of Jessi Combs?

We want to hear it. Share it with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Ed Cyzewski


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