Jessi Combs' Jet Car Wreck Blamed On Wheel Failure At 550 MPH

Back in August we were saddened to report that the “fastest woman on four wheels,” Jessi Combs, was killed while attempting to break her own land speed record of over 483 MPH in the jet-powered North American Eagle land speed record car. Harvey County Sheriff’s Office investigators have now determined that a front wheel collapse caused the wreck, which occurred as the car was traveling 550 mph.

A report from the sheriff’s office cited by Autoblog stated:

“...a mechanical failure of the front wheel, most likely caused from striking an object on the desert...”

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...was the root cause, which would have caused the wheel structure to collapse, sending the jet car out of control. Investigators noted that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, which occurred before the vehicle was engulfed in fire.

The wheels on the North American Eagle are solid metal discs, and are arranged in a pattern with two front wheels in tandem along the centerline of the fuselage, then the two rear wheels on either side on outriggers.

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)