- "They have Podracing on Malastare. Very fast, very dangerous."
- ―Qui-Gon Jinn
A Podracer was a repulsorlift racing vehicle piloted during Podraces across the galaxy, though specifically in the lawless Outer Rim Territories. The term "Podracer" also referred to a being who piloted the racers.
The modern Podracer, developed on Malastare circa 100 BBY, consisted of a small repulsorlift cockpit attached to a series of massive turbine, ion or rocket motors linked together by plasma energy binders. Many Podracers were built by their owners, cobbled together from spare parts and military surplus engines. The cockpit seated a single pilot, and was attached to the engines via strong cables, such as those produced by Steelton. The engines for these craft traditionally came in one of two varieties of mechanical action: internal-combustion-engine types, which used moving mechanical parts; or rocket-motor types, which used no moving mechanical parts. At a distance, one could differentiate engines from motors by noting whether there were rotating fans/turbines at the front of the craft. Energy binders projected from each engine and connected both turbines together, forming a loose triangular configuration with the pod itself, dragged behind the engines, at the highest point.
A racer could commonly achieve speeds in excess of eight hundred kilometers per hour. Because of this, Podracing required lightning-fast reflexes, and only species with a wide range of sensory organs, multiple limbs, or durable bodies were known to race pods. Species such as Humans rarely took part in races, and never won—with a single exception.
Each Podracer was a unique craft that was highly personalized and obsessed over by its owner, born out of long days in scrapyards and ship-breaking yards looking for the perfect, most unique parts. All customizations, whether to achieve greater speed or agility, or simply to end up with a unique-looking racer, were scrutinized by race organizers who sought to tighten rules and outlaw specific tech from the circuit in an effort to make their racing series more competitive. Despite concerted efforts to reign in certain custom jobs, pilots constantly remained a step ahead of organizers and learned to skirt the rules. The infamous Sebulba piloted one of the largest Podracers on the Outer Rim circuits, complete with numerous hidden features and secret weaponry, while young Anakin Skywalker built a custom racer in his yard in Mos Espa in compliance with the organizer's rules.
While most pilots felt that customizing their own craft was part of the sport, major corporations such as Czerka Arms, Incom, and Galactic Power Engineering sought to cash in on the production of Podracers. As their products were already being used to create custom builds, the companies began seeking a larger payout and produced prefab Podracers known as "factory customs." Sold as being race ready without need for modification, these vehicles were marked up considerably in exchange for the time-consuming effort in locating the parts in scrapyards. Despite the price, factory customs sold well during the Galactic Civil War, though they were ridiculed by racing purists who viewed the prefab models as cheating.
The origin of Podracing can be traced to many different worlds across the Outer Rim, and no racer or race has ever been definitively named the first. The Podracer evolved from animal-drawn carts used in racing sports, becoming more advanced as technology progressed. The swoop racers commonly seen in competitions on Taris, Manaan, and Nar Shaddaa following the Great Sith War, as well as multiple other racing sports across the galaxy, were grouped into the origin story of Podracing.
A daring mechanic called Phoebos designed the first Podracer circa 100 BBY, and a pilot named Gustab Wenbus took this machine for its first experimental flight. History credited Wenbus with standardizing the Podracer's configuration and creating the sport's rules. The first Podracers to appear on the circuit were rickety machines cobbled together from recycled and scavenged parts and old military engines. Unbearably loud, dangerous, and producing all sorts of carcinogens, Podracers, quickly became popular across the Outer Rim due to the violence of the sport.
When the Galactic Empire came to power, Podracing was banned, and most pilots and their pods were hunted down and destroyed by Imperial agents. While the sport moved underground during the Imperial era, Podracing enjoyed a resurgence following the Yuuzhan Vong War.
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