Jessi Combs was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota and made the state proud everywhere she went in the world. Having a passion for speed and machines at a young age she propelled that into a career in motorsports that began at Wyotech as she gained a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication. Jessi then went on to be featured in various TV shows like Overhaulin’, Extreme 4x4, and Mythbusters. She was atop the podium of the legendary Baja 1000 race in her class. Jessi went on to compete in the King of Hammers becoming the first woman to ever place at an Ultra 4 event and went on to win the national championship in her class.
Jessi’s passion for women in motorsports and the trades led to creating her own line of protective clothing with Lincoln Electric, specifically designed for females. She also served as the spokesperson for the American Welding Society for five years. Jessi’s drive to educate others held true to her spirit of raising others up, she gained from it every time. Jessi continued to inspire as she was the first woman to compete in “The Race of Gentlemen” in a 1913 Model T. Speed remained a driving force as Jessi went on to race the American Eagle land speed car for the next six years. She became the Fastest Woman in the World at a speed of 522.73 miles per hour breaking a 40 year old record held by Kitty O’Neil. Unfortunately, Jessi died in an accident on her final run. The Jessi Combs Foundation is based on a vision she had on the lakebed where tragedy struck for her mission to be carried forward.
We pay tribute today to the woman who became the first female Grand Marshall of Sturgis in 2017 as she hosted the 77th annual event. Jessi wrote a children’s book “Joey and the Chopper Boys” published in 2015 about a little girl who rode motorcycles. She stayed active in leatherwork, photography, and her own custom shop to build vehicles of all types. Her image is known around the world as the “go for it girl”, born in South Dakota. One of her quotes was “I ask that all of you celebrate my life and everything I stand for. I ask that you do everything in your power to share my mission, what I put my entire life on the line for. To reveal to this world what you are capable of, by showing the confidence and abilities you already possess.” - Jessi Combs