Jessi Combs, a professional speed racer and former host of "Mythbusters," died Tuesday in a crash on a dry lake bed in Oregon's Alvord Desert as she was in a jet car attempting to break a land speed record, authorities said.
She was 39.
The Harney County Sheriff's Office said it was called to the scene of the fatal crash in the desert about 90 miles south of Burns, Oregon, around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Combs, who was nicknamed "the fastest woman on four wheels," was pursuing a record on the dry lake bed, her family said in a statement.
Combs was the lead driver on the North American Eagle racing team. She was identified as the sole fatality connected with the accident, which is under investigation. The section of the Alvord Desert the team was using was approximately 8 miles long, authorities said.
Lt. Brian Needham said there had been no known deaths in the desert while drivers attempted land speed records during his 23-year career with the sheriff's department.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
"Jessi’s bright smile, positivity and tenacious pursuit of her dreams inspired everyone who met her," Combs' family said. "Her drive and spirit were infectious, and she served as a role model for young girls and women around the world."
On Tuesday, Combs was attempting to break the Women's Land Speed Record of 512 mph, set in 1976 by Kitty O'Neil.
She was surrounded by her friends and her family at the time of her death.
"People that loved her and followed her became family, all bonded together by adventure and passion," her family said. "Her fans adored her, and she lived to inspire them."
Her most notable dream, one that she had been chasing since 2012, was to become the fastest woman on earth, according to her family.
"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," the family 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," he wrote. "She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know."
Former "Mythbusters" host Adam Savage tweeted: "She was a brilliant ... builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, " who "strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example."
I’m so so sad, Jessi Combs has been killed in a crash. She was a brilliant & too-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.