The brand new documentary “The Quickest Girl On Earth” tells Jessi Combs’ story, and whereas it has absolutely the saddest of endings with Combs’ demise on a prime velocity run in 2019, it’s additionally a narrative about breaking boundaries and the way she stands as an inspiration for ladies now and into the longer term.
“The Quickest Girl On Earth,” directed by Graham Suorsa and Christopher Otwell, begins on a excessive with prime velocity runs within the desert, unimaginable photographs and quick vehicles. It’s proper up Combs’ alley. Footage within the documentary from Autoblog’s “The Listing” video sequence that ran from 2011 by way of 2017 lets us be taught a bit of extra about Combs and what makes her tick. Two wheels, 4 wheels … any variety of wheels, and Combs desires to drive it. Quick.
Being a lady in a male-dominated world was the furthest factor from simple, although, as Combs needed to combat for each little bit of acceptance on this automotive area she pursued. Within the doc, Combs spoke of her sheltered expertise rising up. She didn’t have larger-than-life ladies position fashions as a child within the South Dakota Black Hills. Even so, her profession and the way in which she lived her life is one to be impressed by right this moment. We spoke to director Graham Suorsa, who labored with Combs for years, about how she overcame adversity and led by instance.
“On the finish of the movie, you get the chance to look again and go, ‘Oh my God, it was all there this complete time,’” Suorsa says. “She wrote the blueprint for all of this and was residing it the entire time.”
‘She would not give it up’
Combs was a number on “Overhaulin’,” “Excessive 4×4” and “All Ladies Storage,” a part-time host of “Mythbusters,” and appeared on “Jay Leno’s Storage.” She raced the King of the Hammers occasion in 2010, 2012, 2013, and earned a spec class win in 2014 and the excellence of changing into the primary lady ever to position at any Ultra4 occasion. In 2011, Combs raced the Baja 1000, ending second within the Class 10 division. Combs was actually a masterclass in automotive media and wildly spectacular in motorsport. What she appeared to like greater than something, although, was the joys of breaking velocity information.
For these unfamiliar with four-wheel prime velocity report breaking, know that the automobiles used for such makes an attempt lately aren’t usually vehicles within the conventional sense. As an alternative, repurposed fighter jets are much more suited to the job. They have already got the required engine know-how and aerodynamics to rise up to these excessive speeds, however that’s solely the tip of the iceberg with regards to engineering these machines. As you’ll see if you watch the documentary, the vehicles are troublesome to work on, unique and really fickle beasts. The primary time Combs took one for a drive, she was hooked. One other director from the movie, Chris Otwell, instructed us all about how Combs attacked the desert.
“It’s type of laborious to clarify that factor that occurs to you if you get uncovered to that world,” Otwell tells us. “We speak about catching the bug … and this results in quite a lot of the questions that folks ask about Jessi and her endeavors and the alternatives she made to press on with the land velocity report because it obtained progressively harmful and she or he had some shut calls and her life was getting sophisticated, however but she continued to press forward with it. She wouldn’t give it up, and it’s as a result of the fever you catch from this factor is so robust, and the potential to what you’ll be able to obtain with it and the assertion you can also make with it, the message you’ll be able to ship. Sharing it with the world is such a strong chance that we couldn’t let it go, she couldn’t let it go.”
After all, if you go after one thing like this, you’re at all times aiming for a report. The impetus of this documentary was to observe Combs break information and to in the future go over 800 mph. Earlier than that, although, Combs got down to finest Kitty O’Neil, the earlier quickest lady on Earth. O’Neil’s report: 512.710 mph. O’Neil was a stuntwoman and cherished making prime velocity runs, and she or he was additionally deaf. Regardless of these challenges — together with an alleged long-term violent boyfriend — she proved doubters improper and held the quickest lady on Earth title for many years earlier than Combs finally broke it.
“I’m not afraid of dying, however I’m not able to die,” Combs says within the documentary in response to a scare she handled within the Alvord Desert of Oregon. A prime velocity try there noticed her automotive’s parachutes fail to deploy on a run the place she nearly didn’t cease. The automotive ended up lastly gliding to a cease proper as she came across some bushes on the finish of the desert flooring. Combs was nonetheless going 90 mph when she was approaching the bushes, however with the assistance of the brakes, she simply made it out unscathed. Combs’ mom, who was pivotal to Jessi’s life and traveled along with her to those prime velocity runs, was proper there along with her on the finish of the desert to verify she was alright.
An unflinching take a look at the crash
Shut calls had been a theme in Combs’ life. When she was rising up, she had a nasty accident that broke her again. Docs instructed her it was a miracle she didn’t find yourself paralyzed or in a wheelchair from it. For Combs, this solely gave her extra motivation to push more durable and quicker.
Sadly, everyone knows how Jessi Combs left this Earth too early at age 39. “The Quickest Girl On Earth” spends quite a lot of time protecting, dissecting and going over Combs’ final fateful run within the Alvord Desert. In the long run, the workforce decided that she wasn’t capable of cease as a result of the main wheel hit a rock within the desert that induced it to interrupt and in the end made it inconceivable for Jessi to decelerate.
Viewer warning: The movie reveals the heart-wrenching second of impression and the aftermath of Combs’ lethal crash.
Afterwards, her workforce decided that in her last run, she had damaged Kitty O’Neil’s report to develop into the brand new quickest lady on Earth with a velocity of 522.783 mph. Combs was posthumously given the report, and it stands right this moment. Past the report being damaged, Combs leaves behind a legacy. A scholarship was established in her title that may go to ladies pursuing careers in trades akin to welding, fabrication, automotive mechanical/electrical work, steel fabrication, pipefitting and mechanical engineering.
“We needed to make some laborious decisions about how a lot of Jessi’s historical past can we embody, realizing that among the viewers would know one thing about her, however lots of people wouldn’t,” Otwell says. “We didn’t need it to be a biography of Jessi. We had been desiring to give attention to this chapter of her life, however with a view to perceive what it means for her, it’s important to know one thing about her previous and the place she got here from.”
Hopefully, this documentary will assist unfold the legend of the lady that Jessi Combs was and what she nonetheless represents right this moment.
“What we’re left with is her legacy,” Suorsa says. “We will present you that she lived it, and it was alive when she was. And now by way of the inspiration and the blueprint that she laid out, that work continues on and it’s timeless. And mandatory. So if this movie can function the continuation of her mission, as her legacy, that to me is probably the most highly effective final result of this movie.”
“The Quickest Girl On Earth” is stuffed with ardour, pleasure and completely gut-wrenching moments, and it’s a must-watch. You’ll have the ability to stream the film on HBO Max on October 20.