- "The Boonta is far more dangerous than any amateur race I've flown!"
- ―Ben Quadinaros
The Boonta Eve Classic was the largest annual podrace in the galaxy. Held on the planet of Tatooine, it was hosted by the Hutts to commemorate the Boonta's Eve holiday. Located just outside Mos Espa, the Boonta race course started in the Mos Espa Grand Arena. There, thousands of spectators would congregate, hoping to see their favored racer win, to catch a glimpse of a spectacular collision, or to win a fortune gambling on the race's outcome.
The formal race ceremony started with a parade of flag-bearers; each carried a racer's distinctive emblem, and lined up before the starting grid. Once the bearers cleared the grid, the Podracers' massive engines would roar to life, seemingly anxious at the chance to soar at speeds exceeding 700 kilometers-per-hour.
The Mos Espa circuit
The Mos Espa course mostly turned around Ben's Mesa. It blazed out of the arena onto the Starlite Flats, an easy stretch of desert where aggressive Podracers jockeyed for strong starting positions. The racers had to line up in single file to enter the curving canyon that cuts through the Waldo Flats. This opened up into Mushroom Mesa, a rocky expanse dominated by immense bulbous rock formations. Metta Drop, a sudden escarpment, dropped the racers onto Ebe Crater Valley, where they again had to navigate a narrow opening (the Notch) to enter Beggar's Canyon.
The race then continued onto a length of desert plains abutting the Dune Sea. One of the most hazardous areas—Arch Canyon—forced pilots to maneuver through stone wickets before entering another series of canyons, including The Whip, Jag Crag Gorge, and the subterranean Laguna Caves. Emerging from the caves, the pilots careened through the tight Canyon Dune Turn, known to be a campsite for vengeful Sand People.
Podracers that survived potshots from the Sand People then had to dodge the rocky obstacles in Bindy Bend before entering the last stretch of canyon, which included The Coil, Jett's Chute, and The Corkscrew.
Exiting the Corkscrew via the Devil's Doorknob, the pilots emerged onto the Hutt Flats, a broad featureless expanse that led back to the arena. This entire circuit represented one lap, and the Boonta Eve Classic required three laps for completion, with an average time of 5 minutes, 20 seconds for each lap.
Commentaries were made by Fodesinbeed, a popular commentator in the sport.
Renaissance under Gardulla
The Boonta Eve Classic circuit was an ancient course that had fallen on hard times by 67 BBY. With the financial support of Hego Damask, however, Gardulla the Hutt restored the course as part of an effort to seize control of Tatooine, creating a new Podracing circuit that would rival those of Muunilinst and Malastare.
The race of 32 BBY
- "Oh, I don't care what universe you're from. That's gotta hurt!"
- ―Fodesinbeed Annodue
Prelude to the Race
Only a few days before, Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi had to land the royal starship of Queen Padmé Amidala on the planet of Tatooine. After discovering that the only way to obtain a replacement hyperdrive generator was to pay with Tatooine currency, Jinn found the young boy Anakin Skywalker in Watto's shop. Jinn met Anakin's mother, Shmi, and Anakin eagerly offered to use his podracer in the race, to obtain the parts needed for the Naboo ship, if he won.
Qui-Gon also worked out a deal, that if Anakin won the race, he would have his freedom.
|Aldar Beedo||The Glymphid from Ploo II||First row||Finished third|
|Ratts Tyerell||The Aleena from Aleen||First row||Crashed in the first lap and died|
|Sebulba||The Dug from Malastare||First row||Crashed in the third lap|
|Mawhonic||The Gran from Hok||First row||Crashed in the first lap|
|Dud Bolt||The Vulptereen from Vulpter||Second row||Crashed in the third lap|
|Anakin Skywalker||The Human from Tatooine||Second row||Finished first|
|Clegg Holdfast||The Nosaurian from New Plympto||Second row||Crashed in the second lap|
|Ebe E. Endocott||The Triffian from Triffis||Third row||Finished fourth|
|Gasgano||The Xexto from Troiken||Third row||Finished second|
|Boles Roor||The Sneevel from Sneeve||Third row||Finished sixth|
|Teemto Pagalies||The Veknoid from Moonus Mandel||Third row||Crashed in the second lap|
|Elan Mak||The Fluggrian from Ploo IV||Fourth row||Finished fifth|
|Mars Guo||The Phuii from Phu||Fourth row||Crashed in the second lap|
|Ark "Bumpy" Roose||The Nuknog from Sump||Fourth row||Crashed in the third lap|
|Neva Kee||The Xamster from Xagobah||Fifth row||Vanished during the second lap|
|Wan Sandage||The Devlikk from Ord Radama||Fifth row||Crashed in the third lap|
|Ody Mandrell||The Er'Kit from Tatooine||Fifth row||Engine blew up during a pit stop|
|Ben Quadinaros||The Toong from Tund||Fifth row||Power coupling malfunctioned|
|Xelbree||Unknown||Unknown||Crashed in the first lap|
When the start lights flashed green, all pilots hit the thrusters and sped away, except for two, Anakin Skywalker and Ben Quadinaros. Anakin managed to get his pod working and soon followed the rest of the racers. In the meanwhile, Sebulba had pushed Mawhonic's podracer into the cliff wall, destroying his pod. Mawhonic survived the crash and he put a bounty on at least two members of Sebulba´s family, the bounty was claimed by Jango Fett. Anakin moved up by overtaking Wan Sandage, Neva Kee, Dud Bolt, and Clegg Holdfast. As the racers approached Laguna Cave, Anakin raced past Boles Roor and Ebe Endocott moving up behind Ratts Tyerell. In the Laguna Caves, Tyerell crashed into a stalactite, and was killed upon impact. Exiting the cave, Anakin's pod was shot at by Tusken Raiders. Meanwhile Ben Quadinaros's pod further malfunctioned as the power couplings deactivated. This resulted in the pod flying apart as the engines tore off in multiple directions, grounding Quadinaros. In the meanwhile, the first five podracers passed the finish: Sebulba, Gasgano, Ody Mandrell, Teemto Pagalies, and Aldar Beedo. Mandrell took a pit stop in which his pit droid DUM-4 destroyed his left engine.
In the second lap, Sebulba used an illegal hidden flamethrower to roast the engines of Clegg Holdfast, causing Holdfast to lose control and crash into the canyon wall. Meanwhile, Anakin was behind Gasgano, and when he tried to go around him, Gasgano went in the same direction, blocking him. This happened again twice until they came to a ramp, where Anakin seized the chance and boosted in mid-air, getting past Gasgano. He also avoided being destroyed by Teemto Pagalies when a bug flew into his eye, and he lost control of his podracer. After passing Aldar Beedo, Anakin moved up to third place, behind Mars Guo. Sebulba tossed a piece of metal in Guo's colossal engine, destroying it. Guo crashed, and a piece of wreckage took out one of Anakin's cables. Anakin was overtaken by Gasgano, Teemto Pagalies, and Ark Roose while he fixed the cable. He then raced by the three that had overtaken him. Now behind Sebulba, Anakin sped through the Canyon Dune Turn, where his pod took another shot from the Tuskens. Teemto Pagalies, wasn't so lucky, as his pod's fuel tank took a hit, causing him to crash. The Tusken Raiders shot Jawas that were picking up some parts from Pagalie's podracer. Sebulba attempted to use his flamethrower on Anakin, but he avoided it. Neva Kee wandered off course in the second lap in Hutt Flats, never to be seen again.
In the third lap, Anakin and Sebulba were racing side-by-side, for nearly the entire lap. A little bumping in Beggar's Canyon forced Anakin onto a service ramp where he fell a little behind. A quick control thrust allowed Anakin to leap over Sebulba to take the lead heading into Arch Canyon. The lead was short-lived as Anakin was forced to deal with a malfunctioning engine due to Sebulba's sabotage prior to the race. He fell behind as he made on-the-fly repairs. Some other racers crashed during the third lap, like Dud Bolt and Ark Roose, who collided with each other, destroying both pods. Wan Sandage lost control and crashed into a wayward Sandcrawler. After getting his engine running, Anakin sped forward and caught Sebulba before entering the Hutt Flats at the Devil's Doorknob. At the end of the lap, Anakin and Sebulba's cockpits became entangled. Anakin used a boost to cut them loose, and Sebulba's engines detached and crashed. Anakin took the victory and was awarded the Boonta Cup.
Anakin Skywalker's triumph
- "It's Skywalker!"
- ―Fodesinbeed as Anakin crosses the finishing line
Even though the odds favored the scheming Sebulba as a victor, the Force was with Anakin, and he came in first. It was a stunning upset to the longstanding Dug champion. He became the first human to win the race. Anakin won more than the race; the young slave also won his freedom.
Almost seventy years later, the bounty hunter Aurra Sing recalled that Anakin won the race by breaking no rules, in a race with no rules.
Race results of 32 BBY
- 1st place: Anakin Skywalker
( 15.42:655 ; 858 km/h)
- 2nd place: Gasgano
(15.48:557 ; 850 km/h)
- 3rd place: Aldar Beedo
(15.52:108 ; 845 km/h)
- 4th place: Ebe Endocott
(16.04:994 ; 827 km/h)
- 5th place: Elan Mak
(16.10:737 ; 819 km/h)
- 6th place: Boles Roor
(16.42:473 ; 781 km/h)
Boonta Eve Classic (1 BBY)
Despite the Empire's ban on Podracing, the Boonta Eve Classic continued to be an ongoing tradition on Tatooine. During one race taking place during 1 BBY, a Star Tours-owned StarSpeeder 1000, the Star Tours Flight 1401, accidentally participated in the race shortly after escaping from Spaceport THX1138 due to an Imperial raid. Several podracers ended up destroyed in the hectic events before it left. The Boonta Eve Classic was popular enough that the Star Tours agency had a lot of passengers leaving for Tatooine for that very reason.
Many years later, Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo visited the site of the race while on a mission on Tatooine and even purchased a holocube of Anakin Skywalker from his friend, Kitster Banai, photographed shortly after his victory. The Boonta Eve Classic was also featured in one of Shmi Skywalker Lars's diary entries that Leia found on the old Skywalker homestead.
Behind the scenes
In the audio commentary on the Episode I DVD, visual effects supervisor John Knoll points out that in a shot of the scene of Sebulba riding just behind Anakin, with Anakin's head nearly in the connecting current between the pod engines, it is possible to see that Sebulba is not present in his pod.
The Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace novelization, written by Terry Brooks and published just before the release of the film in 1999 states that racers Obitoki, Habba Kee, and Xelbree competed in this race. In the novel, Obitoki and Habba Kee die in a crash caused by Sebulba and they appear in the script in the same context, but neither makes an appearance in the film itself. Additionally, Star Wars: Episode I Incredible Cross-Sections establishes that eighteen racers qualified and competed in the Boonta Eve Classic, but these three are not on the provided list. This article thereby treats Obitoki's appearance in the novel as ambiguously canonical. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia was released in 2008. Its entry on Obitoki confirms the existence of Kee and Obitoki and their crash, but it leaves the wreck's occurrence during the Boonta and their deaths ambiguous. Xelbree also received a mention in that reference book.
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