• HBOMax will release a feature-length documentary about land speed racer Jesse Combs on October 20.
  • Combs died in August 2019 in Oregon, trying to hit 512 mph registration as a driver with North American eagle team.
  • The film under the title The fastest woman on earthis the result of a seven-year film project.


It should come as no surprise that the drivers who strive to set land speed records are not ordinary people. They are also not necessarily successful and experienced drivers, so names like Andretti, Earnhardt and Schumacher are not in the speed record books. On the contrary, they tend to be daredevils, thrill-seekers, who love to be the center of attention and avoid ordinary life. This new HBOmax documentary, The fastest woman on earthclearly shows that such people are of any gender.

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The fastest woman on earth | Official Trailer | HBO Max


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Jesse Combs was a talented car builder with a strong passion for both cars and motorcycles. She has parlayed these talents and passions into a series of successful off-road races and a career as a TV presenter with a long list of shows under her belt…Overhaulin’, Mythbusters, The List: 1001 Car Things to Do You Die, All Girls Garage, Full Throttle TV, Xtreme 4×4.

In the process, she contacted Ed Sheidl and his team in San Diego, who built the North American Eagle—essentially a 60-year-old Lockheed F-104 jet fighter, stripped of its wings and equipped with wheels—to try to capture the British speed record of 763 mph. Thrust SSC team. Formed in 1998, the team has made slow but steady progress and has set its interim goal of breaking the unofficial women’s speed record of 512 mph set in 1976 (the women’s record is unofficial because the FIA, which sets speed records, understands that the car’s performance does not depend on the driver’s gender). With her automotive experience, camera skills, strong following and bold personality, Combs has found her next quest.

Cars holding land speed records are two to four times faster than Indy, NASCAR or Formula 1 cars. And the rules are wide open. While the car is rolling, almost anything goes. However, despite the fact that the cars are much faster and their designs are much more original, the budgets of the teams fielding these land rockets are a small fraction of what a professional racing team in the big series spends. Teams that set speed records are often little more than amateur organizations – almost lemon racers in the 10th degree.

For Combs, participating in such an endeavor, as well as maintaining her television appearances and high social media profile, clearly required extreme dedication. Combs acknowledges this, concluding that having a more normal life and family seems unlikely for someone with her ambitions, especially as a woman in a predominantly male world. Though it’s also clear that the novelty of a woman doing mostly male-dominated jobs was part of her appeal.

In one of the most interesting sections of the film, Combs searches for the women’s speed record, Kitty O’Neill, a former stuntwoman in Hollywood, and her record-breaking ambitions were put on hold for various unfair reasons. The connection between two women clearly cut from similar cloth is fascinating and touching.

I’d like a more technical explanation about the North American Eagle and the details of the different runs, but I’m an engineering nerd. But watching the speed increase over the years spent running in the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon gives you an idea of ​​what a long and arduous process it is to achieve the record. Especially if your ambitions are delayed when weather conditions make the desert surface unusable in some years. In the end, Combs achieves his goal—and pays the ultimate price.

The movie is live on HBOmax on October 20 and a must-see for anyone interested in racing speed records, breaking gender stereotypes or making unconventional life choices. Most of us will marvel at all that Combs has accomplished and at the same time be grateful for our more relaxed lives.

Csaba Csere survived a 200-plus mph coup at Bonneville in 1995 while chasing a much more modest production car speed record.

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