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Jessi Combs- 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

March 14, 2024

(07/27/1980 – 08/27/2019)

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Jessi Combs found a love for speed and its machines at a young age. She became a welder, fabricator, builder, racer, artist, entrepreneur, and trailblazer.  She was fearless, boasting, “I will try everything at least twice…  I wouldn’t want to be jaded by the first attempt.”   

Jessi attended WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming where she studied Collision/Refinishing, Chassis Fabrication, Street Rod Fabrication, and Trim/Upholstery. She graduated top of her class in 2004 with a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication and accepted her first job from the trade school’s marketing department to build a custom car with Ben Bright to represent WyoTech at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association’s (SEMA) show and charity auction.  This project paved the way for Jessi to appear on Overhaulin’ as a guest fabricator and launched her career in television. 

Jessi was co-host of Xtreme 4×4 on Spike TV and created 90+ episodes over four years. She honed her skills as a TV host while maintaining her integrity as a metal fabricator, builder, and industrial artist, which earned her additional appearances on countless, high-caliber series, such as Mythbusters and All Girls Garage

  Throughout her career, Jessi fostered relationships and worked hand-in-glove (literally) as a product expert and brand ambassador, even as the official spokesperson for the American Welding Society (2008-2013).  Her experience led to a partnership creating the first full line of women’s welding equipment with Lincoln Electric in 2008. Jessi maximized this opportunity with a signature polka dots welding hood for women that would educate others of the role women have played in skilled trades through history and inspire the next generation. 

Jessi proved a fierce competitor in auto racing where she stacked the first podium finishes and titles for women in multiple events since 2011.

Ultra4’s King of the Hammers crowned her “Queen of the Hammers” with first-place finishes in 2014, 2016, and most notably in 2018 with her custom-built Jeep, “Goldie Rocks.” (Goldie Rocks is currently being showcased at WyoTech). Jessi switched gears in race environments with successful pursuits in the Baja 1000, the Race of Gentleman, and many more.  

Jessi broke stereotypes and records by joining the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger team in 2013 when she became “The Fastest Woman on 4-Wheels” at 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph. Returning to the Alvord Desert in 2019, she set a new Women’s Landspeed World Record at 522.783 mph before the accident that took her life. Filmed over six years, the epic journey and monumental feat have been memorialized in the HBOmax documentary, The Fastest Woman on Earth

  Jessi owned a metal fabrication shop, penned the illustrated children’s book, Joey and the Chopper Boys, and parlayed a brand partnership with Theresa Contreras in pioneering women-led workshops through The Real Deal Revolution, an educational experience continued in proud partnership with The Jessi Combs Foundation to fulfill Jessi’s mission to educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of women trailblazers in skilled trades and the automotive industries.  

When we asked The Jessi Combs Foundation what advice they would give to people entering the trades, here is what they had to say through the lens of Jessi Combs: “Chose a career that you enjoy, and you’ll live a happy and fulfilling life! Forget what society tells you is the norm, you can make a living doing anything you want as long as you have passion for that craft, remain focused and determined and get the education and certifications that will give you confidence.  I research, restore & race vintage race cars for a living, that’s insane but it’s real!  I didn’t get here with money or a famous last name, I worked hard and produced results against all odds. I never took an easy route, I simply stuck to it and never gave up.” – Jessi Combs, WyoTech Class of 2004