Originally Posted by Dynamo of Eternia
IMO the race itself is kind of cool, but it just seems like too much of a side distraction that did little to advance the plot in any way, which is kind of a great metaphor for much of what's wrong with the PT.
The whole trangent with the ship being damaged, needing a part, and Anakin racing just seemed like a big side-distraction more than anything. Yes, I know the bet that Qui-Gon made with Watto over the race is how Anakin ended up getting freed, but pretty much anything could have been written in it's place to free Anakin in a much faster manner.
The only other purpose that is sort of served, all be not very well IMO, was as some kind of very, very loose basis for there to be any remote truth in Obi Wan's comment to Luke in ANH about how Anakin was already a "great pilot" when he "first knew him." Which I kind of argue is BS to a certain extent since the pods, while hovering above the ground, are essentially land vehicles and not something that people are going to fly around in the sky, let alone space. But this goes with the many issues that I have with Anakin being so young in Ep 1 in the first place, but I'm not going into that tangent. (On the pilot subject, aside from this scene, the only other scene in the movie that 'establishes' him as a pilot is towards the end when he's in that plane/ship with R2, and half of what happens there is done by auto pilot, and the other half is pretty much him going "Oops" and doing things by accident... not exactly what I would call a "great pilot).
So while the pod race is kind of cool looking and all, it's just a lot of wasted time that could have been better spent on character and plot development, something that the PT IMO often didn't do very well. It's just one of many examples of "style over substance" in which the visuals outweigh the plot/story in the PT.