Jessi Combs Sets New Women’s Land Speed Record

Her 344.002mph Average Beats 1965 Record by 36mph . ALVORD DESERT, Oregon (October 8, 2013) – Jessi Combs has broken the women’s land speed record with a two-way average speed of 344 miles per hour. That mark surpasses the previous FIA women’s land speed record of 308mph set in 1965 by Lee Breedlove, wife of former world land speed record holder Craig Breedlove. Combs drove the North American Eagle (NAE) Supersonic Speed Challenger vehicle on the dry lakebed at the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon.

At 10:38am Pacific time, Combs blazed through the measured mile at 318.2057 mph. “That felt so rad. I want to do it again,” said Combs after coming to a stop at the north end of the course. Combs only went into afterburner briefly during her first pass. The afterburner nearly doubles the thrust of the jet engine. “You need to get a bit more speed,” said team owner Ed Shadle. “So somewhere between the 3 and 4 mile mark, you may want to see what full AB feels like.” “Did you just give me the okay to go into full afterburner?” asked Combs with a big grin.

Climbing back into the cockpit after the vehicle was turned around, the crew restarted the Eagle’s jet engine and Combs roared off. This time, she did indeed go into full afterburner. At 11:30am, Combs recorded a speed of 369.7983 mph, for a record-setting two-way average speed of 344.002 mph. She hit a top speed of 382.8 mph on her second pass. The rules require that a driver make two passes across a measured course, once in each direction, with the second pass completed within 60 minutes of the first. Officials then average the two speeds.

The vehicle Combs drove, the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, is a 14,000 pound, 50,000 horsepower converted F 104 Lockheed Starfighter jet that once served as a chase plan for the X-15 and SR-71. The all-volunteer team of American and Canadian engineers and former military personnel converted the F-104 into a jet-powered car designed to travel at more than 800mph.

Asked what it felt like to go into full afterburner mode, Combs’ grin got even larger. “It’s amazing,” she said. “It changes the entire ride. Why didn’t you let me do this on the first run?” she asked Shadle. “It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

Combs is an automotive metal fabricator and currently co-hosts All Girls Garage (Velocity by the Discovery Channel) and The List: 1001 Car Things to do Before You Die (AutoBlog). Previous television appearances include Mythbusters and Overhaulin’ (Discovery Channel), Xtreme 4x4 (Spike TV), and Two Guys Garage (Speed Channel).

In 2014, Shadle will drive the Eagle in an attempt to break the current world land speed record of 763 mph. With the current British record holders at work on a new vehicle of their own, the NAE team is not only faced with the challenge of breaking the current record, they are also in a race with the British to be the first to set a new land speed record.

October 9, 2013/North American Eagle News Release

Images from John Dobson, Sanderson Field, Shelton WA.

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