Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.
Podracing in Star Wars
Say what you will about Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and its Jar-Jar shenanigans, but it cleverly uses podracing to illustrate Anakin's piloting abilities and Force sensitivity, and it provides some mid-film action. It also spawned the excellent Episode I Racer video game, letting players tackle podracing on a variety of planets.
Podracing is so dangerous that only aliens with enhanced reflexes or Force-sensitive humans can engage in it—which racers garnered galactic renown for their skills? These are the ten best podracing pilots in Star Wars!
10. Ratts Tyerell
Tyerell crashes during the big Boonta Eve Classic, which seems like a strike against his racing aptitude. However, this was because his vehicle's accelerator malfunctioned, so there really wasn't much he could do.
Aleens are small and low-weight, perfect riders to minimize drag, and his pod emphasized top speed, bearing massive engines. It's worth noting that Anakin, easily one of the best racers, thought highly of Tyrell, commending his skills and lack of underhanded tactics.
9. Tzidik Wrantojo
Debuting in video game Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Wrantojo took the racing world by storm with his seasoned skills. Perhaps Wrantojo's best racing asset was his level head, focusing on speed rather than aggression towards other pilots. He held numerous records on various worlds, favoring aquatic tracks suited for his species.
Navior gained renown as one of the few honest podracers. His craft was small and frail, giving poor top speed and durability, but amazing turning and acceleration that helped Navior place well across several tracks.
You won't find Navior in Phantom Menace, as he (and several other racers) were cut from the script, instead debuting in video game Star Wars: Episode I Racer.
7. Ebe E. Endocott
A thrillseeker, Endocott entered the podracing scene after working as a talented speeder pilot, only to shock spectators by winning three Mustafar championships. Endocott's success inflated his already considerable ego, but he has the skills to back up his boasts, and he did well in the Phantom Menace Boonta, finishing in fourth.
6. Boles Roor
In his prime, Boles was a force to be reckoned with, not only maintaining a successful singing career but also winning the Boonta Eve twice. By the time Phantom Menace takes place, his aging reflexes and out-of-date podracer hinder his performance, but there's no doubt he was an amazing pilot in his youth.
Like Gasgano, Mawhonic was noted to be one of few racers Sebulba considered a threat, leading Sebulba to target Mawhonic during the Boonta, destroying his podracer.
Still, it's worth noting that Mawhonic was in first until Sebulba attacked him, and he survived the incident, continuing to place well in many races for years to come.
4. Ben Quadinaros
You'd never expect this goofy-looking alien, who never had a chance in the Boonta, to make this list. But it turns out he's actually a great pilot with a stellar racer, which only failed to start after being sabotaged by Ark Roose (who intended to disable Anakin's pod under orders from Gardulla the Hutt).
Quadinaros went on to win many races, eventually earned a reputation as Sebulba's greatest rival.
Gasgano was regarded as the second-best Boonta pilot after Sebulba, showcasing his immense skills. His racer emphasized acceleration, and his numerous arms enable him to perform mid-race repairs without sacrificing piloting ability.
Gasgano does well in the Boonta, staying consistently near the front of the pack and ultimately placing second (behind Anakin). He also manages to avoid attacks from other racers or Tusken Raider spectators.
Interestingly, the 2005 book Star Wars: Complete Locations hints that Gasgano was present in the Mos Eisley cantina when Han met Luke and Obi-Wan despite him not actually appearing in A New Hope.
As cruel as he is skilled, Sebulba's legendary reputation stems from fierce piloting skills, a dominating vehicle, and aggressive tactics designed to eliminate other racers. His underhanded schemes range from physical attacks during races to prior subterfuge against rivals.
Sebulba has many wins under his belt, and his nefarious tactics give him a big edge; that said, he technically doesn't finish the Phantom Menace Boonta, putting him in last place. However, he'd go on to purchase Anakin's pod (Qui-Gon doesn't tell Anakin who he sold it to, likely an intentional omission), giving him even more of an advantage.
1. Anakin Skywalker
Anakin is likely the best pilot of anything in the whole franchise, not just racing, first displayed at age 9. He manages to win the Boonta despite his youth and multiple sabotage attempts from Sebulba, and his hand-built podracer is one of the galaxy's finest.
Imagine how skilled an adult Anakin, with the Force under his command, would be at racing. In fact, we get a glimpse in the legends book Jedi Quest: The Dangerous Games, where a teenage Anakin enters a podrace against Sebulba's son Hekula in an effort to free a slave, and of course, he wins.
Other Pilots in Star Wars
Today we examined the best known podracing pilots, but throughout the series, we see many starship pilots who might excel in the sport if they entered, like Han Solo, Wedge Antilles, and Poe Dameron. That said, podracing is considered too dangerous for most humans, so perhaps even they wouldn't attempt it.
Swoop racing offers another speed-based sport for fans to examine, but for now, vote for your favorite racer, and I'll see you at our next Star Wars countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill