Jason Drives Out Of Here

The semi-coherent algorithm that writes Jason's posts is getting shut down

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Jason Drives Out Of Here

Today both Jason and David leave Jalopnik, and it is my duty to roast them. I’ll start with Jason, who has worked at Jalopnik for 10 years now, a familiar name years before that. I remember Jason’s first days here, clear as a bell, as he dragged his beloved electronic typewriter up the stairs off the office, cursing the “new-fangled” elevators that he still refuses to use.

Sure, we ghost-write most of Jason’s articles here, much of it done with an algorithm that cross-pollinates key words and phrases from 1960s science fiction against Haynes manuals we bought off eBay. This is how we got the “If Squids Ruled The Earth What Would Their Cars Be Like” post, and even his first “How To Break Out Of A Car’s Trunk” when we started out sourcing terms from 1930s pulp novels about going on safari.

We did this out of necessity, mostly because Jason refuses to use a computer newer than the first Reagan Administration, and hasn’t actually directly logged onto the internet since the first dot-com boom. Some deals fell apart, live streaming on reservations was involved, I can’t say I remember all the details but he still submits his copy typed out on paper for us to transcribe. Ever since the intern lawsuit cut down on our free labor, we’ve basically used him as a figurehead, ranting around the office about how, for three months in Argentina, you could buy a Volkswagen Beetle with two different engines mounted in the same car. Or maybe it was two sets of headlights? I can’t remember. Still, I’ll miss the guy. When he’s in his element, juiced up on a half-dozen diet cokes, maybe slightly altered from the fumes from his Nissan Pao’s carburetor, it’s amazing how fast he can work on a Vectrex.


Much of our Jason-bot software is still proprietary, so I wish David the best with all of the typing and editing. He has his work cut out for him.

With that being said, let us please enjoy his current and former coworkers roasting him. A second post roasting David is to come, once we pick the rust flakes out of our eyes.


Lalita Chemello — Jalopnik Managing Editor

The things I’ve had to look up in the few months I’ve been here editing, from your stories alone ... I’m going to have to burn my search history. Not just delete it. Burn it. I don’t know where you got the gall to just do whatever the hell you want, but thank god I don’t have to read through and edit it anymore. David can deal with that shit now. If anything, you and David were meant for each other. Sickos.


Erin Marquis — Jalopnik Writer

Jason is a mad scientist who decided to use his powers, not for good or evil, but for content (very much like evil, but measurable by Chartbeat.) There’s no one else like him in the world, but I want you to know this: One time he wrote that Jordi LaForge was Head of Engineering on the starship Enterprise. I saved him from embarrassment and shame by changing it to Chief Engineer and regret it every day. If I had let him make that serious faux pas, no one would ever take him seriously again and he’d have to stay at Jalopnik, where no one is ever taken seriously at all.


Andrew Collins — Former Jalopnik Reviews Editor, Current EIC Of Car Bibles

Editing car reviews by Jason Torchinsky is one of the most dangerous jobs in media. If you somehow manage to catch every bizarre reference/cartoon/phallis/ect Photoshoped into the pictures, you’ll probably still miss a line about horse mucus or robot sex that he snuck in which you then have to explain to suits from car companies the next time you request a loaner car.


Rory Carroll — Jalopnik EIC

Here’s my thoughts on Jason: I think as well as we’ve come to know him, we have not scratched the surface of his depravity. You see the stuff that gets by me, which is more than got by the the two previous editors who quit rather than subject themselves to the psychic torture of editing him. You don’t see the slack messages and the texts that hint at a darkness I can’t help but recoil from. He’s a pervert, folks. A sicko! Don’t pretend you don’t see it! On one hand, I think he’s one of the bravest people I’ve ever met, on the other, I think he just gets off on making people feel uncomfortable. Ask him about the wrestling story.


Do you know that he has never once submitted work with the correct use of “here is” or “here are”? I refuse to believe his decrepit, ancient brain has failed to absorb that information. He’s just doing it to be an asshole.

Look, do I think it’s bad that Elon Musk is basically paying Jason to leave the site, so he can silence the one person who offers fair and honest analysis of Tesla? I do, but I’m honestly just glad to have that little shit out of my hair.


Anyway, tail lights or whatever.

Erik Shilling - Jalopnik News Editor

I cannot imagine a writer or editor who doesn’t typify the Jalopnik ethos more than Jason. Imagine if Jason had not been holding this site back all these years. His grating obsession with tail lights will not be missed.


Mercedes Streeter - Jalopnik Writer

I didn’t know that one could have a serious conversation about taillights until I first stumbled on your work. Your ability to find the obscure facts about long forgotten cars is almost frightening. I’m not thoroughly convinced that you’re a real person and not an errant AI forever stuck talking about amphibious cars and naked dudes in the trunks of Subarus.


I also thought you’d leave Jalopnik with a bang, with like stealing a space shuttle from a museum or holding up a train carrying door handles. I guess a goodbye post is fine.

Regardless of where you two are headed, good luck and never stop looking like a pair of guys that look 15 and 50 at the same time.


Patrick George — Former Jalopnik EIC, Current Editorial Director at Recurrent Ventures

When I was EIC of Jalopnik, a not-insignificant part of the gig was “Keep Jason Torchinsky thriving, but also adequately fenced-in.” Allow me to explain.


Automotive journalism suffers from a disease of sameness. Too often it’s the same guys, with the same opinions, driving the same cars, eating the same buffet shrimp. Largely, a collection of feckless, soft-dick midwesterners in jeans-and-blazer combos talking about how great the Mazda Miata is and complaining about why not enough midsize crossover SUVs have manual transmissions. Most of these people should be eaten, frankly.

Then you had Jason, imagining cars driven by a race of sentient squids; challenging professional designers to drawing competitions; crafting his own toys; challenging the narrative that Mercedes-Benz invented the car (don’t get him started on that one); and seeing the beauty and promise of weird, forgotten failed experiments. On their best day, your average auto writer knows about 10 percent of what Jason does and can do what he does about 10 percent as well. His background in diverse subjects like art and comedy gives him an attention to detail that makes him an outstanding writer and reporter.


But that’s just the side of things you saw on the page. Then there were the times I had to lecture him that, yes, he did in fact put us at legal risk for making an unlabeled satirical post that claimed Terry Gross from NPR’s Fresh Air got banned from drag racing. Or the times I cleared admin bullshit off his plate but had to beg him to at least tell people when he was going on vacation. Or one particular Story That Shall Not Be Published, which I can’t even talk about because it will end all of our careers. (Don’t even ask about that one!)

Or how anytime Jason—who loves air-cooled Volkswagens, in case you hadn’t heard—drove anything with more than, say, 180 horsepower, riding shotgun with him felt like he was gunning for some Koenigsegg speed record. I once drove across the country with him in a BMW 228i. Parts of it felt like a Group B rally, at the edge of life and death and all.


This stuff happened a lot with Jason! I can say without prejudice or ego that the man’s a genius. He just also sometimes shows up at your home with a jar of tepid urine. And you gotta watch out for stuff like that. But I don’t have many “bad” things to say about the guy; he’s a wonderful colleague, a dream talent to have on your team, and someone I’m proud to call a friend. His work has been essential to Jalopnik’s DNA over the years. He set a high bar I hope this current team will strive to meet every day. (Also, we owe him endless thanks for basically being our in-house Art Director for so long.)

So my hat’s off to both him and David Tracy in their new venture. The world is not ready for the level of unhinged, unrestricted Car Madness they’re due to unleash soon enough. It’s going to be weird as hell, and we need a lot more of that. I very much look forward to a Hanomag Kommissbrot being the next car to set some kind of record at Moab. Probably on fire.


Travis Okulski — Former Jalopnik EIC, Currently Editor at Hearst

Jason is a weird guy. He wears a nomex race shirt under a tattered tan suit to auto shows and tries to pass it off as a style choice. Every time we talk we say we’re going to have a ‘clams casino party’ someday but I can’t for the life of me remember why we say that or what that even means. I assume it was funny to someone at some point? I also once made him do a video about the new CTS-V at Road America and he wasn’t allowed to say anything about the car. So he talked about the odd sensation of driving a crestless Cadillac.


In 2015, the American Endurance Racing series coerced Jalopnik and R&T to run against each other in something called the Enthusiasts Cup. Basically just a chance to get both pubs into identical Spec E30s to see which was faster. R&T was faster (duh). Jalopnik crashed the car. Jason and I made a bet before the race, whoever lost had to drink windshield washer fluid (aka blue Gatorade in a big bottle). Jason had to chug the bottle, which he then barfed on video. Just seeing Jason lie in a puddle of his own puke on a garage floor is one of my favorite memories at a race track. I assume that’s also a metaphor for something? Maybe?

Kristen Lee — Former Jalopnik Writer, Current Deputy Editor at The Drive

Jason is generally a stellar person to work with, I guess. Except the guy cannot get his subject-verb agreement right. Every single time, he fucks it up. It makes my eyes bleed.


Jason, as a lesson to you: Subject-verb agreement is when subjects and verbs have to agree with one another in amount. If your subject is plural, then your verb must be plural. If your subject is singular, then your verb must be singular. Why is this so difficult to grasp!

I’ll give you some examples. “There are six taillights on a Citroën 3RT.” “Here is one dog with three legs.” Simple shit.


How does Jason go about with his subject-verb agreement?

Here’s Those Terrible Shift Knob Decals You Didn’t Want

Here’s A Dozen Of The Worst Tire Names I Can Think Of

Here’s Six Bonkers Facts About A Bonkers Car, The Bricklin SV-1

It’s “here are.” HERE ARE. HERE ARE. HERE ARE ya fuckin goober.

Finally, companies are an it, not a they. Companies are singular. BMW didn’t just show off their latest invisible car. I have been wanting to scream this at you since forever.


The night before our Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk got stolen, Jason and I got very drunk at a bar in Detroit and David drove us back to the Airbnb in a Ford F-150 Raptor, a ride in which we discussed the pros and cons of eating ass at great length. (There are a lot of pros as it turns out!)

Image for article titled Jason Drives Out Of Here

Jason, I do not love you. I do not wish you the best, though you don’t need it. I don’t miss you. I don’t want to see you soon. Your art is still not hanging on my fridge.

Eat shit.

Adam Ismail — Jalopnik Writer

There were a good few months before and after I started here where the primary autoplay video on the site was him talking about the Vectrex. We make a lot of reaches in our relentless pursuit of transportation-adjacent content around these parts, but that one rivals the pizza take for the most egregious I’ve seen yet. Also, I’m peeved because I was looking forward to an eventual tour of his basement; I wanted to play his Virtual Boy. I’ve never tried one of those before and now I never will. Because he’s dead.


One of the funny things about this dark, itchy corner of car internet is that the quick turnover means you’re here for what feels like 15 minutes before you have to, say, roast Jason-freakin-Torchinsky. The only thing shittier than being in that position is the realization that you’re roasting him specifically because he’s not going to be working here tomorrow. This isn’t like a Comedy Central roast, where the jerk of import goes on doing exactly whatever it was they were doing before, and nobody’s lives are measurably changed. No — Jason is dying in the Jalopnik canon, and he’s taking not only his taillight erotica but also a third of our audience with him. What do you say to a power move like that?

Well, I’ll miss the taillight erotica, because nobody could spin a yarn on what is ostensibly a car site like Torch can. I’m also not aware of another prominent auto journalist with a basement full of vintage gaming detritus that rivals his. That’s what I personally look for from the people who tell me what cars are good, and what I respect the most about Jason.


Alanis King — Former Jalopnik Editor, Currently Editor at Business Insider

I say with 100 percent certainty that in Jason’s many years at Jalopnik, he refused to acknowledge that we spelled out “percent” instead of using that ugly fucking percent sign. Thank you, Jason.


Mike Ballaban, Former Jalopnik Editor Emeritus, in a text after having forgotten to check his email

Tell Jason I say he can get fucked and also he’s like one of three people I am legitimately, utterly afraid of


Like he’s so talented and smart and brilliant I am scared.

I’m old, I have a car and a house and a kid, and every time I have to text Jason (which takes me a while to work up the gumption), I’m terrified he will not approve of whatever I have to say.


Tom McParland — Jalopnik Freelancer

They say there is a fine line between genius and madness. I am still trying to figure out which side of the fence Jason falls on. I am leaning more towards madness. Oh shit...this means I am now the oldest writer at Jalopnik ... thanks a lot Torch!


Jonny Lieberman — Former Jalopnik Editor, Currently at MotorTrend, in a “reply all” to the complete roast email chain

I’m going to miss going on press trips with Jason where he has to pretend to be billy badass because he’s representing Jalopnik. It’s a weak act, and the entire dinner table could see through it, but there’s little I value more than commitment to the bit. And man, did he stick with it! Having to watch Jason revert back to his old sweetheart, nice guy form is going to suck. But hey, odds are high that his new endeavor will flame out miserably and he’ll be back on the J-Nick gravy train, doing his old “edgy car journo” routine before you can say Locomobile.


Matt Hardigree — Former Jalopnik EIC, Currently at Tangent Vector

No one respond to Lieberman. Raph, let me go in front of Jonny please and let Jonny be last.


Alanis King

I’m just going to contribute to the inevitable reply-all hell because I feel like it.


Travis Okulski

Hi all!

Did everyone watch Jeopardy tonight?

Jonny Lieberman — Former Jalopnik Editor, Currently at MotorTrend, again in a “reply all” to the complete roast email chain

Well, this was the worst mistake I’ve made in years.

Stef Schrader — Writer at The Drive

Look, you’re a good dude, and congrats on Getting/Out, but you’re also the bane of my existence. Every time I post a really cool car—cool as in, hrrrrrnnnggg weird amphibious micro-sportscars that tend to sink THAT’S MY FETISH kind of cool—some yahoo will inevitably chime in “Torch should totally drive that.” Every six-wheeled microcar, Soviet bloc weirdo, tank, plane/car mashup, rolling deathtrap or just general oddball, it’s always “Torch should drive that!”


What the hell? We’re both writers, dagnabbit. What do people think the rest of us like to drive, frickin’ Outlander Sports?

This is all to say, thank goodness you’re not going to The Drive. Now I really only have to fight with James Gilboy to drive the truly depraved Volkswagen stuff.


Rob Emslie — Jalopnik Freelancer

I first sort-of ran into Torch at a foreign-only U-Pull-It yard in Sun Valley, California. The only thing was, I didn’t know him from Moses at the time. I was there stripping what meager scraps I could salvage from a Jensen Healey for my own eternal project car when I heard a couple of dudes saunter up (that’s what I remember most clearly about Torch — his saunter) and start-in discussing the car. Clearly having marked my territory, I wasn’t too keen on this unexpected intrusion into my greasy monkeying. Torch offhandedly told the other dude that the Jensen used the same Lucas tail lamps as his Reliant Scimitar. I muttered under my breath “ just keep walking there, Scimitar-boy” and offered the pair my most assertive side eye. I’m not sure either of them was even aware of my presence in the otherwise empty engine bay since they almost immediately sauntered off to look at some other cast-off treasure down the row.


My protective nature meant that I didn’t get the chance to speak to Torch at the time, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized that the man with the taillight kink (no shame, man) was the same as my perceived junkyard foe. I sometimes worry that my aggressive nature in protecting that dirty Jensen parts haul was part of what spurred Torch to shorty later move out of California. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

I wish Torch and Tracy the best of luck in their new, likely tetanus-superspreading online endeavor. Oh, and Jason, I’ve still got those tail lights, buddy.