Hellrides through Mexico, fact-checking scammers, hooning McLarens on dirt tracks, making comebacks from concussions and abandoning Volkswagens in Arkansas—we had a good year at Jalopnik. And a busy one.
Hello. What you’re about to read is the Editor’s Picks, my annual act of football-spiking where I brag about all the good work our staff did this year.
I’m especially proud of this year’s selection, given that we spent almost all of it facing an existential threat that forced our previous parent company into bankruptcy. Hell, I’m glad Jalopnik is around at all, let alone published all these great stories in a year when nothing came easy. But I work with the best, most talented, craziest group of writers in all of cars (and stuff other than cars), so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised.
I hope you take the time to enjoy some of my selections. As always, thank you for being a part of the best community of enthusiasts on the internet.
Andrew Collins scratched one off his personal bucket list by doing the “sadomasochistic speed contest” known as the Baja 1000. I asked him if he wanted to do it again next year and he just started softly weeping. I guess it went great?
Did you know this company existed? I didn’t! David Tracy sheds light on an important but not well known part of the auto industry. God, this place must be fun to work at.
A good take from Kristen Lee, who still has the nicest and fastest vehicle on staff.
Maybe I’m naive, but I still think the best kind of journalism is the kind that helps people. And Stef Schrader’s story of her recovery from a brain injury sustained in a racing crash is, hopefully, the kind of story that can help people understand these injuries better. From NASCAR to the NFL, it’s clearly not an issue that’s going away soon, and Stef’s harrowing recount of her concussion is, I think, some of the best writing anyone has done on the subject.
“This vulgar Lexus costs more than $85,000. I am not one to tell people how to spend their money—I will leave the rants against needless luxury goods to the angry American underclass that will surely come beating down your door all too soon.” We were honored to have a guest blog from our country’s greatest living automotive critic.
Like most car enthusiasts vocalizing their wildest automotive dreams, this story began with “You know what we should do?” Except we somehow pulled it off, thanks to the gracious people at McLaren and their inexplicable willingness to entertain our insane idea. And we didn’t even crash it. Good work, everyone!
Jalopnik, specifically Raphael Orlove, has been out in front of this bizarre and mysterious story all year thanks to some damn good digging and sourcing. Like everyone else in the world of cars, we await what’s next with Faraday Future as it enters a year that will make or break it.
Alanis King’s story on how the Snowball Derby and other short-track events are hurting themselves with outdated, unethical, restrictive media practices set off a firestorm in the racing world. The sport needs to do better by its fans or it will die.
Novelist and Jalopnik contributor Maggie Stiefvater has mostly been busy with book-writin’ these days, but she gave the world one of the best stories ever on what it means to tune your car—and why anyone would want to.
Alex Lloyd tells the story of Terry Fullerton, a man whose name most people don’t know but whom Ayrton Senna regarded as “the best all-round driver he ever competed against.” Why didn’t Fullerton become as famous as Senna? In large part, because he came up during one of the most fatal eras of auto racing, and that informed how he navigated his career. Read this story if you haven’t.
We are fueled by bad decisions.
But sometimes those bad decisions become more than just stories: they become legends. Professional crazy person David Tracy will attempt to do the same in 2017, this time in a relic from just after World War II. Pray for him.
Is NASCAR going to be a sport for white Southern dudes forever, or can it be something more? Does it want to be? These are questions the people in charge will have to figure out eventually. But in the months after this was written, we did see Mexican-born Daniel Suarez rise to become the Xfinity Series champion. Let’s hope it won’t be the end of different faces and different talents in America’s biggest and most visible racing series.
Car reviews, in particular exotic and sports car reviews, trade in a kind of aspirational fantasy—an escape from our mundane reality into wonderful machines few of us can actually afford. But I like this review because Andrew steps away from the fantasy to explain what it’s really like to have a six-figure exotic when you’re just a normal working dude like he is. Cars are about more than just numbers.
Not an easy investigation, but Jason Torchinsky did the story justice.
If the Honda Ridgeline doesn’t make sense to you, read this. And you’ll start to wonder why more automakers aren’t doing the same.
What kind of fuel economy will you get in a heavy-duty truck? The automakers won’t tell you, and neither will the government. It would sure be nice to know that!
NASCAR has its problems, but this thorough investigation by Stef proves this guy isn’t the answer to those problems.
I never gave a shit about Goodwood. When I sent contributor Jeff Glucker to cover it, I told him to write a story that would make me care. He did, and you’ll care too.
As Stef points out here, Top Gear and the internet grew up together. You probably couldn’t have one without the other. And now its former hosts have fully embraced the medium on their Amazon show. Time is a flat circle. Or something.
BREAKING NEWS: BBC REPORTEDLY IN ‘CRISIS TALKS’ OVER TOP GEAR AS NATIONAL NIGHTMARE SHOWS NO SIGNS OF ENDING
“I REMEMBER THE BLITZ,” LOCAL RESIDENT SAYS
I respect Elon Musk and I consider us cautiously optimistic about Tesla, but every now and then he could use a reality check.
You’d have done the same damn thing. Admit it.
It’s awfully hard to nail down the “best” story to come out of Jason’s wonderful gasoline-addled brain, but this is one of my personal favorites. Frankly, I think it’s a story that could one day transform food itself. Give it a few decades. This idea’s time will come.
Damn Warglesnargs. They haven’t gotten Kristen yet, but she’s crafty.
Covering car culture with boots on the ground is something I want us to get back to doing more of in 2017. And this story on H2Oi, the stanced car festival that’s morphed into a law enforcement convention, is a great look at one of the most controversial events in all of motoring.
I wish more people had read this story. It’s a great investigation, and weird as hell.
We’ll be doing a lot more Foxtrot Alpha in the coming year, but here was one of my favorite stories from a Cold Warrior who encountered a very precarious situation and lived to tell the tale.
This ended up being one of the most divisive stories we’ve ever run. Some people think the guy who completely stripped out his diesel Volkswagen Golf before attempting to turn it in for a Dieselgate buyback was an asshole; some people think the company has it coming. I can see both sides. It’s a bit of a dick move, but you know what else is? Globally cheating on your vehicle emissions.