Is Riot Racing the same as Podracing in The Bad Batch?

By Kieran Burt
Published: January 18, 2023 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
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Is Riot Racing the same as Podracing in The Bad Batch? There will be spoilers for episode 4 of The Bad Batch season 2. 

Episode 4 of The Bad Batch season two introduces a new style of racing to the galaxy, riot racing. This new and extremely dangerous sport asks racers to balance defense with offense, all while dodging obstacles at breakneck speed. There are incredibly high-stakes bets riding on all the racers, attracting many unscrupulous figures and a high turnout from the crowd.

If this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because riot racing shares many similarities with another type of race in Star Wars, podracing. First introduced in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, this race also attracts high stakes bets, fast speed with tight corners, and a large crowd.

But the similarities aren’t just limited to this. There is a noticeable lack of humans in these races, and that’s because of the quick reflexes needed. Anakin could only podrace due to his extreme Force sensitivity, so when Tech races and wins doing it, it begs the question if Tech is force sensitive.

Is Riot Racing the same as Podracing in The Bad Batch?

Riot racing bears many similarities to the podracing event held around the galaxy. While some are obvious, there are some more subtle similarities too.

The first similarity is of course the nature of the sport. Both types of racing are extraordinarily dangerous, with it being common for racers to crash and not finish a race. In some circumstances, a racer can even die. The lax ruleset of both sports contributes to this, with no kind of moderation of what the racers do to each other. Whether it’s Sebulba sabotaging Anakin’s pod, or Jet Venim using a cutting tool to destroy other racers, no care is given as to how someone wins.

This leads to another similarity, and that’s the likelihood of getting shot. While it’s not a feature at every single podrace in the galaxy, Tatooine’s podrace featured a group of Tusken Raiders shooting at the competitors, to try to stop them. In Riot Racing, modifying a racer to include blasters is common, to shoot at the competition. Podracers are highly modified too.

Track safety is a concern in both the podrace on Tatooine and riot racing. There are closed portions of the tracks in the races, but unfortunately, they’re not properly secured. In The Phantom Menace, Anakin is forced onto a barely closed service ramp leading him into the sky, and Tech takes a path that has a red “do not enter” light, but nothing else.

While riot racing and podracing have many similarities there are an equally important number of differences too. The crowd is much more at risk from stray blaster fire in riot racing, and the course is built more like an obstacle track than an actual race track.

The riot racing in The Bad Batch is more of an homage to the podracing seen in The Phantom Menace, with its similarities and differences making for a unique type of new race in the Star Wars galaxy.

How is Riot Racing different from Podracing?

But while there are some similarities between the two, there are also some differences, beyond the speeder difference. The course that Tech follows is more like an obstacle course, with traps, bits of the track jutting out at regular intervals, and different paths to take. Podracing is less about avoiding obstacles and more about straight racing.

There are also differences in safety. In podracing, the crowd is completely safe from harm (unless you hang about behind the service ramp), but the racers are more exposed to danger. In riot racing, the crowd is just as likely to get shot as any racer. The racers though have deflector shields and a closed cockpit, such luxuries not seen in podracing.

But podracing is much more popular than riot racing. The sport is played on Malastare, the home of Sebulba, Batuu, the planet where Galaxy’s Edge is set, and of course Tatooine. Podracing attracts the most powerful crime groups, most notably the Hutts, whereas riot racing doesn’t have the same appeal, and is only on one planet.

Is Tech force sensitive?

Throughout the episode, an irritating droid called TAY-0 makes it clear that he doesn’t think Tech, or humans in general, have the ability to win at riot racing. TAY-0 claims Tech can’t make the split-second decisions needed to win and is incredibly dismissive of Tech’s ideas to win the race, like diverting power from the weapons to the shields. He even says that Tech makes amateur mistakes.

But when the overconfident and rude TAY-0 is smashed to pieces by a riot racer, Tech steps up to take his place in the race. It’s a surprise when he’s able to beat the competition and fly his way to victory. It’s very similar to Anakin’s winning in the podracing event on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace, with him being the only human able to do it, and that was only because of his Force sensitivity. So could Tech be Force sensitive too?

While the two situations are comparable, Tech isn’t Force-sensitive. He was able to win because of his enhanced mind, which gives him better analytical skills and hyper-intelligence. He spends most of his time preparing for the race, reviewing the track and racer patterns, whereas we aren’t shown Anakin doing this.

Something that also separates Anakin from Tech is his feelings. Anakin is much more emotional than Tech, and just before the podrace Qui-Gon advises the young Anakin to feel and not think. Tech has a habit of missing the emotional side of a situation (for example, he didn’t know that flying is about a feeling), so wouldn’t be able to feel his way around a race like a Jedi.

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