Rapid City Journal from Rapid City, South Dakota on August 7, 2017 · B1
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Rapid City Journal from Rapid City, South Dakota · B1

Rapid City, South Dakota
Issue Date:
Monday, August 7, 2017
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Rapid City JouRnal Monday, august 7, 2017 | B1 00 1 RALLY DAILY Monday, august 7, 2017 | rapidcityjournal.com | sECtIon B DEB HOLLAND Meade County Times-Tribune Jessi Combs has a lot of her great- grandma Nina in her. Grandma Nina DeBow lived in Deadwood and was a free-spirit who made her living as a jazz pianist trav- eling many miles on Goodrich fabric tires. She ended up being a spokes- model for the tires. Her family also owned a car lot and she raced Stanley Steamers back in the 1920s. Combs also rides and races. And it seems fitting that nearly a century later, this chip-off-the-old-block will serve as grand marshal of an iconic event that got its start at a gathering for racers. She will lead riders in today’s Stur- gis motorcycle rally Mayor’s Ride. “Being the first woman grand mar- shal is a testament that women are welcome here,” she said. She says it sends a message to women that it’s OK to ride their own bike — that they don’t have to be on the back of a bike anymore. “Even five to 10 years ago it was rare to see a woman riding her own motor- cycle,” Combs said. “To see how times have changed and to be a part of that is huge.” Combs was born in Rockerville and moved to Piedmont when she was just 2 years old. She considers the Pied- mont location as her childhood home. Combs remembers her first foray into driving was when she was just a young girl sitting on her dad’s lap. “We’re going through the Hills. He’s off in la-la land looking at trees or whatever and I drove down into a ditch. Right before I hit a tree, he gets me back up on the road and told me, ‘See the road? Stay on it.’ That was probably some of the best advice he could have ever given me,” she said. Combs said she has cherished that advice throughout her life. “Always look at the path you want to take and stay on it, try not to veer from it,” she said. Her parents later divorced and she lived in Rapid City with her mom, Nina Darrington, and graduated from Stevens High School in 1998. “I’ve never strayed from who I am or where I came from,” Combs said. Today, Combs is known as the Fast- est Woman on Four-Wheels. On Oct. 9, 2013, Combs earned that title when she broke the FIA Women’s Land Speed Record on a dry lake bed in Ore- gon. In a retired, wingless ex-military jet, she recorded a two-way average speed of nearly 393 mph and maxed out at over 440 mph to break the re- cord. Combs, who doesn’t shy away from any challenge, says she was born with her drive to succeed. “I think that growing up in South Dakota is a huge part of it,” she said. “Now that I have lived all over, I un- derstand the quality of life we have here and our work ethic. If it needs to get done, we just do it.” Combs grew up wanting to be an architect, got a full ride scholarship for interior design, went to school for custom paint, graduated a metal fabricator, got a career as a TV host, became a brand representative, and is now a race car driver. Her fans know her from TV shows such as The List: 1001 Car Things to do Before You Die, All Girls Garage, Overhaulin’ and Mythbusters to name a few. With a passion for speed, Combs has built and raced nearly everything on two, four and more wheels. She races Ultra4’s King of the Hammers (KOH) taking home a spec class win in 2014 as the first female to ever place at any Ultra4 event; she has pressed on to win a National Championship in the series, a stock modified KOH win and a 12th place finish in the unlimited class. When it comes to off-road racing, Combs has also podium finished mul- tiple times in the Baja 1000, the most brutal desert race in the world. So what’s next for this dynamo? “Ideas, dreams, and goals morph as we experience life, so I’m not sure I can look at it like there’s something I haven’t yet achieved since I will al- ways be striving for something more,” she said. Combs races to the top of cycling world Piedmont native first woman to lead Mayor’s Ride COURTESY PHOTO Known as the Fastest Woman on Four-Wheels, Black Hills native Jessi Combs has been named the grand Marshal for the 15th annual sturgis Mayor’s Ride scheduled to take place today. Jessi Combs during a stop while on her 6-day trip from California to south dakota for the sturgis motorcycle rally.

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