Jessi Combs was born 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.
After the passing of founder Ed Shadle, Jessi role changed becoming the primary driver. On September 12, 2018, Jessi made a 483.227 mph shakedown run at the Alvord Dry Lake Bed. Unfortunately a hydraulic bay door lock mechanism broke allowing the door to open. It was instantly torn away from the vehicle with parts entering the left hand engine inlet, causing the test session to come to an end.
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.