While it’s a well-known fact that Star Wars fans aren’t too fond of the Prequel Trilogy, The Phantom Menace, in particular, has managed to draw a lot of criticism over the years and even stand out among the other two films, which by no stretch of the imagination implies that they’re good.
Of course, we can’t deny that there are certain elements in the prequels, even Episode I, that compel fans to go back to them even to this day. Namely, the sequence with the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace, while out of place from a certain point of view, was a delight to watch and is still a memorable part of the young Skywalker’s journey from a slave boy on Tatooine to one of the greatest warriors in the galaxy. Besides, this galactic version of the “chariot race” is basically Star Wars‘ equivalent of Quidditch, which lends the fictional world a sense of legitimacy besides the main conflicts of good and evil that are always at play.
Alas, after the fall of the Galactic Republic, podracing simply vanishes from the canon of that galaxy far, far away. But apparently, this has to do with the Empire. In Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire, a tie-in book for Disney’s theme park, fans learn that under the Imperial rule, podracing has been outlawed. Vi, the book’s protagonist, visits a diner where meat is cooked over the engine of a podracer, and it’s where she hears about illegal races taking place away from the eyes of the Empire. Even the roleplaying game Endless Vigil, now part of the Legends continuity, had revealed that the Empire is against the dangerous sport.
I know what you’re thinking; why would the Emperor be against podracing? Was he looking out for his citizens, or did he wish to take away one of their sources of entertainment to further establish his tyranny? Knowing how twisted Palpatine truly is, we’re willing to bet on the latter. Or maybe he just wanted to mess with Vader and take away one of his childhood thrills.
At any rate, considering how massive the world of Star Wars is, it’s safe to say that some people are keeping the tradition alive somewhere, even if we don’t hear anything about it in the context of the new narratives.