By Daniel Van Hoosier
With Lakewood’s Summer Stampede Car Show just around the corner, there is no shortage of exciting new elements on the slate to commemorate the event’s 20th anniversary.
On Sunday, August 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mayfair Park, the Female Empowerment-themed festivities will include a car showcase, a carnival area for the kids, inflatables, food trucks, live music, raffles and much more.
There will truly be something for everyone at the show and one of “Stampede’s” featured guests will be local outdoor/extreme sport enthusiast Jessi Combs, the world’s fastest woman on four wheels.
A metal fabricator, racer, designer and TV personality, Combs developed her sense of adventure as a young girl in Rapid City, South Dakota and later attended WyoTech, where she received a degree in Custom Automotive Fabrication, finishing atop her class.
Her long-standing mantra, “taking the long way home,” developed as a child, when she had endless outdoor exposure and describes the experience as “a wonderful way to learn how to just slow down and enjoy what life has to offer instead of always hustling through it.”
The entrepreneur has built numerous cars, trucks and motorcycles from the ground up and prides herself on understanding how the machines work from the inside out, all while breaking gender barriers within her field.
“Pretty much if it has a motor in in I like it,” she said. “I like either fixing it, building it, racing it, driving it, playing with it, taking it on adventures. I love it.”
The latest title Combs has been given is “professional adventurer,” something she says anyone can achieve by simply getting out and exploring what’s around them.
“It just means I know how to go out, adventure and have a good time doing it,” she said. “A lot of people on our planet don’t realize what this world has to offer us and the places we can go and things we can do and people we can meet along the way. A lot of people are locked in their bubble and don’t realize getting out actually enhances your quality of life, so I’ll take professional adventurer any day.”
One of her most impactful endeavors thus far is the development of “The Real Deal,” a program she co-founded with Theresa Contreras, which serves to set apart women (and men) in the industry who share the passion for breaking the mold and setting new standards.
“Real Deal is a lifestyle brand that promotes and empowers women in the automotive and industrialized industries through a hands-on way,” Combs said. “We set up our booth at trade shows and put welding torches in women’s hands, children’s hands and anybody’s hands who really want to learn. We do the same thing with pinstriping and leather working and fun things that are somehow wrapped up into building cars.”
Summer Stampede participants will get a first hand, interactive look at all of this and can visit Combs at the Real Deal booth.
“One of our main goals is to bring confidence into girls, into our youth, something that they may not have known was even possible,” she said. “By placing us in the middle of the Summer Stampede Car Show, we’re able to reach an audience that may not have ever known that it’s ok for girls to build cars or drive cars or race cars or have anything to do with cars.”
In addition to hosting Xtreme 4×4 and Overhaulin’, Combs has appeared on television shows such as All Girls Garage, MythBusters, and currently host The List: 1,001 Car Things To Do Before You Die, on Autoblog.com.
A lifelong love for speed and competition led her to the land speed world record, which she captured in October 2013 by traveling in a wingless ex-military jet across a 13-mile stretch of the Alvord Desert (Oregon) at an average speed of 398 miles per hour (with a top speed of 477.59). The previous record stood for 40 years. Combs is attempting to become the fastest woman on earth.
Combs’ racing resume is highlighted by Ultra4’s King of the Hammers, the Baja 1000, the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (a nine-day all-female rally race which uses hand-drawn maps and a compass), The Race of Gentlemen (first female to compete in the carnival event, a race with a 1913 Model T traveling on the beach) and many others. In 2014, she became the first woman to place in an Ultra4 event and holds a national championship in the series as well.
“My goal is always to get more people involved in motorsports and building things and taking ownership and being real and raw and doing it for the right reasons,” she said. “That’s really what I promote and empower, it’s my mission and my everyday lifestyle: stay true to yourself, do what you love to do and explore new ideas and options and pathways. You never know where it’s actually going to take you.”
Next up for Combs is another major milestone as she will serve as the first female Grand Marshall for the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, beginning Aug. 4.
Another featured highlight at Summer Stampede will come in the form of Bryan Calvero and what he brings to the table with his company, Period Correct.
“For Summer Stampede we’re trying to bring cars, European sports cars, to that field, something I’m curating myself, not specific in year or make,” he said. “We’re going to have a good mix, but we’re definitely excited to give back to the city. I’m all about giving back, especially for the kids. Period Correct, as of next year, every item that we sell, we’re actually giving back to kids cancer. That’s our mission and something I want to push for. We’re looking to make this have a bigger impact.”
Calvero has always loved cars and developed his clothing brand as a way to fuse business with his passion.
“I’ve been interested in cars as early as I can remember, maybe four-years-old,” the collector/race enthusiast said. “I grew up in Cerritos where there was a car culture, mostly Japanese cars. I had a huge fascination with European sports cars, from Ferraris to Porches to BMW, cars that had race history. I know there was something that existed for motorcycle enthusiasts, but not the car enthusiasts.”
Period Correct will be on full display at Summer Stampede, along with a multitude of cars to show, potentially including the Ferraris, Porches and BMWs Calvero has always been interested in.
“We’re a company that is trying to share the car culture and express it through fashion,” he said. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re trying to use classic silhouettes and make sure all the inspirations are from cars and motorsports.”
Knowing full well that motorsports and car collecting don’t fit into the category of cheap hobbies, Calvero said his key to success while building his collection and his company was always living within his means.
“You’ve always got to walk before you run,” he said. “I’ve never jumped the gun, I only bought what I could afford and what I liked. I never bought anything on ‘oh, I’m going to re-sell this or this is going to go up in value. I always bought cars in that fashion. I’ve collected stamps, baseball cards, basketball cards, you name it, from toys to a lot of other collectibles. That was always just a rule for me. I just try to stay in the moment and enjoy the cars I have now.”