By on January 1, 2016

ferrari

It’s that time of year again! As I did in 2014, 2013, and 2012, I’m channeling my inner Joni Mitchell by linking back to some of my most popular articles of the year and also reanimating some of the things that I loved but you hated.

So let’s set the wayback machine to “not terribly far” and let’s go living, we’ll keep living, in the past!


The Hits

The April Fool’s Prank. This was the biggest article of the year at TTAC, and both of the “companion” pieces I did also made the Top 50. It came from an idea that Alex Roy had while we were driving Matt Farah’s “Million Mile Lexus” from Los Angeles to Powell, Ohio in January. Simultaneously depressed and exhilarated by the increasingly ridiculous bedpan-and-sketchy-data turn taken by pretenders to the “cross-country record,” Alex proposed to take the process to its logical conclusion via fiction. To say that the article was popular would be a considerable understatement. April Fools’, everyone.

You gotta be rich to own a cheap car. The aforementioned “Million Mile Lexus” somehow got me all the way from 21st and Lewis in Long Beach, CA to my driveway without much drama, but it couldn’t make it to Tim Horton’s two days later without blowing out its radiator. The think piece that I wrote about the repairs performed by “Tavarish” from Jalopnik wound up being linked everywhere from AudioAsylum to AR15.com.

Porsche’s Deadly Sin #1. It’s been more than five years since I wrote this but it easily cracked the Top 10 stats page again this year. It might be one of the most popular things in the entire history of the site and it’s been read close to a half million times.

Performance Car Of the Year, 2016. As was the case for the two years previous, Road&Track‘s “PCOTY” was a chance for me to spend three days driving the most exciting new cars on the market with my friends and write a story about it that would be distributed across the globe to millions of readers. It’s difficult to express the sheer satisfaction involved in the event without coming off like a pre-arrest Martin Shkreli holding the Wu-Tang album, so I won’t bother.

Death Of An Incel. This was one of the the most popular things I wrote for my own blog in 2015, and it led to all sorts of fascinating conversations. Perhaps the oddest consequence of publishing this article was a series of emails I received from a mysterious fellow who claimed to be romantically involved with a friend of Wilkes McDermid. He portrayed himself as a sort of Christian Grey character: young, handsome, impeccably fit, wealthy beyond my wildest imagination, the veteran of a hundred supermodels’ bedrooms. I don’t know if he’s for real or if it’s a put-on, but regardless I enjoy our correspondence.

husky

The Misses

My Elsinore GP misadventure was (and remains) a sustained low point in 2015. My plan was to honor Steve McQueen by competing in the Elsinore off-road motorcycle race. I had zero off-road motorcycle experience. Still, the first day of training went pretty well and it wasn’t until the morning of the second day, early in October, that I snapped my left tibial plateau clean off, pulling two ligaments with it. For the record, I rode the bike back to the pits after the crash. If you stop by the R&T site at the end of the week, you should be able to see some X-rays and hear a fun story about a guy who had his arms laid open and purposely mutilated so he could continue riding dirtbikes. I’m still using a cane to walk and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get that leg all the way back to where it was, but what the hell.

Aircooled cars, hot prices. What made me sad about this piece was that I went through the trouble of doing a Bob Seger parody and only one reader caught it. It’s not that you’re idiots. It’s that I didn’t do a very good job. Like Chucky on “SOA” used to say, I accept that.

Stupid Paris Stupid Does. Not only is the headline labored, the diesel fanatics wanted me dead after they read the whole thing. But you’d be well advised/Not to plan my funeral before the body dies. I continue, however, to think that diesel passenger cars are a terrible idea. The particulate issue is only now beginning to get the attention it truly deserves.

Review: M235xi. The various mouth-breathing basement-dwellers of the BMW forums absolutely crucified me for refusing to acknowledge the Greatness Of The Turbo Six Powered Two Series. Go to hell, you Bimmer-bronys. The car sucked.

Save For The Limo. This is the closest thing I’ve written lately to a mission statement. I hope it explains a little bit about why I write what I do and what I feel my responsibilities are to you, the reader. Enjoy it.

* * *
So what’s in the hopper for next year? Well, I’ll be racing against my brother, Matt Farah, and Travis Okulski in Las Vegas next month. We’ll see if those punks can cash the checks they’ve been writing with their keyboards. My prediction? Pain. I’ll also be buying and selling a few more motorcycles, and perhaps writing about it. Most interestingly for me, my son now owns a 50 cc TopKart and a Yamaha TTR-90 and we’re going to put them both to good use come this Spring. You know you’re getting old when you’re more excited for your kid’s new bike than your own new bikes, right? Stick with me in 2016, B&B. We’ll have fun.

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31 Comments on “My Greatest Hits (And Biggest Misses) Of 2015...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Why does the man on Jesus’ t-shirt have no cranium?

  • avatar

    My Dodge Challenger Hellcat contributions were my biggest hits of 2015.
    Sending me viral – and feeling that rapid income felt awesome. Doubled my Youtube earnings this year.

    My biggest miss: When I was in Dubai I shoulda made more car videos.

    When I’m in Montevideo Uruguay and Buenos Aires I’ll do better.

    • 0 avatar

      #Humblebrag

    • 0 avatar
      zipster

      A 2016 guide to “Big Truck.”

      These are some of the things we know about him:

      1. The title, “Big truck” is an effort to make you believe that he has large “parts.”
      2. He claims to be 6’4″ inches tall. This is probably at least 6 inches greater than his actual height.
      3. He says he lives in New York City. This is to impart a belief that he is cosmopolitan.
      4. His mother “has” a new Mercedes: the family is old money.
      5. He claims to be a contractor. If this were true, he would not have time or inclination to post the nonsense that he does. In reality, he probably is a low level techy working in a cubicle.
      6. He recently stated that he has master’s degrees in geology and physics, yet he presents himself as a classic climate change denier.
      There are few who got through high school physics or chemistry who are of that belief.

      Were you to meet him, you would soon want to disengage, narcissists tend to be boring.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      When you were in Dubai you should have rid yourself of any means of ever posting anything on the internet and stayed your happy kiester in Dubai thus greatly reducing the amount of nonsense I have to scroll through when reading this site. And take my Aussie namesake with you.

  • avatar

    Thanks for all the articles, Jack. You remind me a lot of Stephen St. Croix (rip Mr. Marshall) – well written, thoughtful and entertaining regardless. Enjoy your upcoming Spring with your son. Sounds like a blast!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The girl in the black dress is pretty. How long will Road & Track keep you on board if you don’t start telling lies about BMWs?

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    Thanks for a good year, Jack. For what it’s worth, Against the Wind practically jumped off the page at me when I first read that piece many months ago….sorry I didn’t comment on it, then you’d have known that at least TWO readers got the reference.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I want to thank both Jack and Bark for actually waiting until 2016 to publish their retrospectives on 2015.

    I get sick of reading things about “the year in review” that get published in November.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That complaint goes back centuries. I read a book in my old college library recounting newspaper articles that had appeared in various London newspapers in the 1700s, one of those end-of-the-century compendiums. The book was printed in 1795.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Methinks you like your misses more than your hits. Regardless, I appreciate your hard work and strong writing.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Jack,
    Your a good writer, why do you lean on the crap that worked when you were 20? The let me tell you how I spent my night with this hot girl is getting really old, I find myself passing on more and more of your articles and that is a shame.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Diesel passenger.. I have to say Jack, having spent 3 decades round diesel commercial fleet. The diesel Sprinter with DEF is the least smelling of vehicles. Heck less stinky than a petrol passenger on start up. And I’m talking INDOORS start-up here in a warehouse. Ford’s diesel W700 pre-DEF were utterly disgusting. Whether all those particulates are nabbed is another matter… Happy NY to you & yours.

  • avatar
    Robert

    RE:the death of an incel

    At the top of the article you advise “asking a friend”. It certainly generated a long dialog in a small circle of friends I’m close enough with to engage in that sort of conversation.

    One thing we didn’t cover, that keeps nagging at the back of my mind. Not expecting a response,but I’ll plant the seed and someday hope to see an article.

    I’ll ask you this…what are the relationships between the topic of the article and the impact of global “free trade” agreements. Is it just an attempt at corollary, or something deeper?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That “ask a friend” quote is from Wilkes himself, not from me. I should have made that clearer.

      I think there’s a definite correlation between dating markets and free trade. In each case, opening the markets leads to bigger winners and bigger losers as you have more customers for each item and more labor providers, so to speak.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        If you want another possibly-statistically-significant population to compile dating-site statistics on, try adding “Male, all races, engineer” and “Female, all races, engineer” to those charts. In my roughly 150-strong department at an OEM in Michigan, there are 40 or so men in their 20s and 30s. Of this population about 1/2 have a picture of them with a girlfriend or a wife at their desks, at a company where family pictures are encouraged.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert

        Why don’t we pursue free trade agreements with Africa the way we do Asia?

        We’ve sewn up cheap labor in the Americas. Hispanic ethnicities didn’t make it into the article also. No criticism intended. Just baseline incentives and economic value as it correlates to perceptions of beauty and desirability are interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Guessing wildly, the guy would have done better in the US than the UK (race wise), but the height issue would hound him here as well (I think we’re taller on average than the Brits (but not the Danes)).

      Sucks for him, but I’m guessing that if could really pass himself off as anything like a “a sort of Christian Grey character” he could look like Jabba the Hut and still get laid. Should have tried for more lessons from Jack (on things other than high speed driving).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Good luck in 2016 Jack.

    Hope you don’t suffer another major injury this year.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Jack, thanks for reminding me to read the hits, I’d somehow missed the PCOTY; my loss has been remedied. Re: Death of an InCel; you’re dang weird. Thanks for making me think, I think. Neither my wife or I can think of any examples of Asian male/Black female couples, but my Berkeley CA native mother says it’s rare enough that she notes it when she sees it in SF/Berkeley, which must mean it happens (or she’s full of it).

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    What you considered a Miss, the Save for the Limo piece, was something that I actually enjoyed and found instructive.

    It is an outstanding illustration of the difficulty of being understood correctly by your entire readership, no matter how hard you try, and especially if you try to avoid formulaic writing.

    It is good that you are introspective and are able to perform self-criticism, but don’t be too hard on yourself…your writing is always fresh and interesting, including the parts about your successes and failures in the Cupid department…it’s a part of your life, many of ours, and definitely illustrates many truths about the reality of modern life, and especially modern attempts at happiness in relationships.

    Even though I have been happily (the majority of the time) married for approximately two decades, I find your meanderings not only interesting, but they also serve as a reminder to examine my own past, in hopes of being a better person.

    Furthermore, as the father of a young man, who is more than a decade your jumior, it helps me to keep in touch with the world as it is, and not just as I remember it from my own past, which in turn enables me to better connect with my son, and to help him understand the world he is entering into.

    So screw the naysayers. Just as with Bark’s now banished Sunday Stories, if readers don’t like them, they certainly have plenty of other material each week to click on at TTAC, so if they complain, it is almost certainly due solely to the fact that they feel a need or desire to complain about something.

    BTW, I understand you are considering Revenant…just caught it with Matt…a really interesting movie, though not one I would recommend watching while you are in a cold place.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    You’re an incredible writer Jack. Thanks for all you do.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    I still think Baruth might really be Stephen O’Malley’s alter ego.

    I approve of that possibility.

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    I enjoy reading your articles Jack, it’s a lot of the reason why I regularly come back to TTAC. Here’s to more hits for 2016.

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