Yes, I know. How dare I talk ill of anything Star Wars-related. Let me be clear, I love Star Wars and clearly so does the rest of the world. It earned a record-shattering $1 billion worldwide! With that said, I wanted to take a look at how the Star Wars-leading motorsport, Podracing, which is a very big deal in that galaxy far, far away, just doesn’t quite stack up to moto racing here on planet Earth.
Before we get into the thick of it, here’s why I’m considering them in the same category. Podracing in the Stars Wars universe is a part of engine-motivated racing, both implement a pole starting gird, and both are engaged in various locations as part of a championship.
Let’s take a look at the detailed breakdown of each of these sports!
The motorcycles used in MotoGP™ are purpose-built, purebred racing bikes – “prototypes” – which are not available for purchase by the general public and cannot be legally ridden on public roads. The technical regulations to which Grand Prix teams must adhere to when they build their bikes for MotoGP competitions provide a simple guide to the type of machinery the riders use.
In the Star Wars universe however, the basic design behind a podracer places the passenger pod right within the exhaust paths of those huge jet engines directly in front of it. Not only would exhaust flow likely affect engine performance, but also the riders themselves, who are almost always in open-cockpit pods. WOULDN’T THEY DIE OR AT THE VERY LEAST GET BROILED?
While on the topic of safety, MotoGP has one of the most sophisticated safety protocols in place that works in favor of the riders, not the spectators. During the course of a Grand Prix, flags and warning lights are used to advise and warn the riders, providing them with critical information about the race. Also, ignoring flag instructions can result in punishment for the riders depending on the seriousness of the infringement: warning, fine, ride through, change of race positions, time penalty, disqualification, withdrawal of Championship points, suspension or exclusion. Obviously, for the safety of riders, teams, and fans alike the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motorcyclisme) does not mess around.
In Podracing, many drivers are racing for their lives. It’s a HUGE failure in the sport's part when you cannot guarantee your athletes safety. Why can’t the Galactic Podracing League do something to keep those pesky Tusken raiders from shooting at the racers as they pass? There’s also the rampant, unchecked cheating (use of ramming, flamethrowers, etc.)
MotoGP has a plethora of governing bodies that keep the sport together and ensure riders and fans experience the best possible championship. The following organizations are the main parties involved in the organization and production of the MotoGP World Championship: the FIM, IRTA (International Road-Racing Teams Association), Dorna Sports, NSMA (Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers’ Association), and the Grand Prix Commission. These bodies oversee everything from race protocols concerning racing conditions (wet and dry races), penalties, ride throughs, etc.
In the Star Wars universe, Podracing takes place on numerous planets, yet if there were any governing body or rules, they sure don’t seem to have been enforced. The biggest issues, of course, are safety-related (see above). The drivers didn’t have any basic protection covering their bodies besides the inadequate headgear. They let a NINE-YEAR-OLD human race in the podrace on Tatooine, in the Boona Eve Classic. Why was this allowed? Who runs this mess?!
See You in Qatar for the Return of MotoGP!
For all you Star Wars fans, MotoGP kicks off in March in a place that looks a lot like Jakku, close enough at least. On March 20th, the 2016 MotoGP Championship™ will take over the Losail International Circuit in Qatar! Right on the outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar, this fabulous circuit stretches an impressive 5.4 kilometers, surrounded by artificial glass designed to prevent that Jakku (read: Qatar) sand from blowing onto the circuit. Get on the waitlist to be one of the first to get your hands on an Official Ticket Package to the first race of the year, in a land not so far away!