Star Wars: The Phantom Menace expanded the galaxy far, far away more than any of the films that preceded it. It introduced us to new faces, new places, and new corners of perhaps the most iconic Star Wars world: Tatooine. Most memorably of all, we were introduced to Podracing. While some may question the wisdom of devoting about one-sixth of the entire film to this plot device of a sport, we condemn those people and banish them to the Jundland Wastes. Podracing is rad and above all criticism.
Equally impervious to defamation is one racer in particular. Arguably the best Podracer of all (especially if weighted by number of engines) is Ben Quadinaros. Although Star Wars fans will no doubt have consumed every bit of ancillary material concerning this diminutive demigod, I feel a calling to compile here all of the reasons that Ben Quadinaros is a role model, a paragon of virtue, and a legend. Interest in Podracing is on the rise now that the classic Lucasarts game Episode I Racer has been re-released for Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, and it is our duty at Holonet Marauders to ensure that veneration of Quadinaros is not lost in the hype.
He Rises to the Challenge
Star Wars is about a hero answering the call, at its heart. What would have happened if Anakin Skywalker did not seize the chance to be a Jedi? Would the Rebellion have won if Luke Skywalker did not follow Obi-Wan Kenobi despite his misgivings? Had Rey fled from her destiny as she tried to in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would the First Order reign forever? And most importantly, where would we be if Ben Quadinaros had not risen to fellow racer Boles Roor’s drunken five million peggat bet the night before the Boonta Eve Classic?
As longtime Quadinariacs will no doubt recall, just before Christmas 2000, the official Star Wars website blessed us with Podracing Tales by Ryder Windham, an eight-part comic series. This essential text was initially intended as a promotional item for a fruit snack package, but it was no less sweet for its final medium, for it remains the most Quadinarial of all Star Wars stories, rightfully distributed for free to all who might need Ben’s light in their lives.
In this seminal work of Quadinaronomy, two-time Boonta champion and pop singer sensation with a flea infestation Boles Roor decides to pick a fight with our hero. Ben is enjoying the show at the Poodoo Lounge when an intoxicated Roor mistakes him for a heckler and begins making extremely unacceptable insults at the entire Toong species, challenging Ben to a five million peggat bet that he’d never enter the Boonta race. Although Ben has only raced small-time amateur contests up until that point, he rises to the challenge and accepts the bet. The power dynamic between all-around superstar Roor and innocent, anonymous Quadinaros is as unbalanced as Sebulba’s temper, and yet does Quadinaros back down? Absolutely not. He rents a BT310 for double the power and shows up at the starting grid the next day, even though his racer disintegrates before he could compete. Now, you may be concerned that losing such a bet condemned Quadinaros to destitute poverty, but remember: the bet was just that he would not enter. Quadinaros walks away with five million peggats, his dignity, and a lesson we are all grateful to have learned.
He is Forgiving
Readers of Podracing Tales will know that the dim-witted Ark “Bumpy” Roose was hired by Gardulla the Hutt to sabotage newcomer Anakin Skywalker after she had bet against him. The observant will recognize that Bumpy mistook Quadinaros’ BT-310 for Anakin’s custom Radon-Ulzer machine and sabotaged it, leading to the famous failure of all four engines. This was just one of many mercenary conspiracies and assassination contracts at play during the Boonta Classic. Aldar Beedo was hired to kill Elan Mak. Dud Bolt was not even really racing so much as trying to eliminate Sebulba’s enemies. This cutthroat subterfuge seems to be the norm in the sport.
With the Podracer pilots all knowing each other’s business, it stands to reason that Quadinaros would eventually have learned of the cause of his racer’s explosion. And yet in The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, also by Windham, Roose is shown to have survived at least 13 years past the events of that race. With his newfound fortune and the accepted cloak-and-dagger behavior around these races, Quadinaros easily could have gotten his revenge on Roose, and yet he rose above the temptation the same way his cockpit soared above the arena out of control on that fateful day.
Star Wars purists will note that the cited sources up to this point besides the film are part of the non-canonical Legends timeline. I refute any objections with the twofold argument that first, the existing Star Wars canon is incomplete without more Quadinarological content and therefore invalid. Secondly, there is no better home for a Toong like Quadinaros than something termed, “Legends,” for he incontrovertibly is one.
He is Content to Enjoy Life on His Terms…
A pilot is only as fast as their Podracer, they say, probably, I imagine. With a newfound confidence and five million peggats in his pockets, depending on the various exchange rates around the galaxy (which were probably fairly stable ten years before the Separatist crisis, even with the taxation of free trade routes that George Lucas mistook for a compelling space fantasy plot point), it stands to reason that Quadinaros could have purchased a better pod of his own and dominated the galactic racing scene. One probably even hopes he did. I have certainly given thought, perhaps to an unhealthy extent, to the glory he could have attained had he immediately done so.
But he didn’t, because that is not who Ben Quadinaros is, has ever been, or will ever be. After the race, he purchased a drink for fourth-place winner Ebe Endocott and then humbly took the rest of his earnings back to friendly competition on the amateur Pouffra Circuit where he had first begun participating in the races he had long enjoyed. But although he had earned his fun, he would not remain there indefinitely…
…But That Doesn’t Mean He’s Not Ambitious!
Star Wars fans who believe that Ben Quadinaros’ sole appearance in the on-screen canon was in 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace will be forgiven just this once, but they are wrong. In the animated series The Clone Wars’ sixth season episode “The Rise of Clovis,” there is a tense scene in former Quadinaros competitor Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi Temple quarters. I am not sure what is said or done in this scene despite having watched it countless times before bed, because anytime I attempt to watch, my eyes are drawn to a poster on Skywalker’s wall. It advertises presumably a recent or upcoming race between Podracing champ Sebulba and none other than Ben Quadinaros.
“The Sport’s Greatest Rivalry!” the top of the advertisement screams in Aurebesh, which is the most intriguing tidbit of all. This episode is set twelve years after the fateful Boonta. Sebulba would, of course, never compete in the Pouffra circuit, so we can conclude that Quadinaros has returned to professional Podracing. A war-torn galaxy surely rejoices in the simple pleasure of a humble hero returning to inspire a new generation, just as they would much later with Luke’s climactic return at the Battle of Crait or Lando arriving at Exegol with the fleet, if not moreso.
Star Wars fans love to debate, dissect, and discuss. The wisest and most heroic and most powerful character is a common topic. In the spirit of humility of our greatest hero, I will make no demands, but next time, amid a sea of cries in support of Yoda, Skywalker, Kenobi, and Rey, I ask that you remind people about a humble Toong Podracer pilot who is just as tenacious, noble, and deserving of renown.