"I believe I belong in the drivers seat of race cars."
What does purpose feel like? I think off-road racer and all-round automotive luminary Jessi Combs knows, if the way she sounds in this video is anything to go by. There’s something about the way her voice cracks almost imperceptibly as she says “There are times when I believe this is what I was born for”.
I get the sense there is a difference between loving the visceral experience of driving a race car and feeling like you were born to do it. I don’t know what this difference feels like, but it’s clear that Jessi does. I have a feeling that purpose has ‘tells’, little signals that you are in the right place at the right time. Here, the sound of Jessi’s voice feels like as much of a tell as the substance of her words.
Jessi illustrates for me the idea that when there’s something you feel 'born to do', part of that feeling is inspiring others to do it. I have a very vague thought circulating at the moment that our minds have ‘genes’ they want to pass on just like our bodies do. Maybe part of our place in our evolutionary framework is to find fertile ground for these ‘mind genes’. One of these could be a missing piece of someone else’s puzzle.
As well as competing in (and winning) some of the most demanding off-road races in the world, Jessi was also a metal fabricator, a custom car builder and a TV show host (All Girls Garage, Overhaulin’, Mythbusters). She designed a line of welding equipment for women, wrote a children’s book about, and alongside designer and custom painter Theresa Contreras, began Real Deal Revolution, to teach women automotive building skills. Jessi felt like she ‘belonged in the drivers seat of race cars’. But this feeling of belonging seemed to be part of an interlocking kit of parts, which both allowed her to connect with what made her feel most alive and also to clear the path for others to do this too. I have a feeling that this combination lies at the heart of a purposeful life.
Jessi Combs was killed on the 27th of August 2019 at the wheel of a jet-powered car during an attempt to become the fastest woman on Earth. Those who dare as well as dream are a rare breed indeed. Go well Jessi. Thank you for all the inspiration you have left swirling in your dust clouds.