Dash Panels (also called Boost Pads) are special zones that appear in every game of the Mario Kart series. Despite their differing appearance across the games, Dash Panels are used to grant karts large speed boosts when driving over them, allowing them to achieve maximum speed.
Dash Panels were first introduced in this game, though they were instead called Zippers, and took on the form of a yellow arrow. They are very rare, only appearing in seven courses: Bowser Castle 1, Mario Circuit 2, Ghost Valley 2, Bowser Castle 2, Mario Circuit 3, Bowser Castle 3 and Ghost Valley 3. In Mario Circuit 2, the Zippers are used to complete a large jump and are required to complete the track.
Dash Panels in this game bear a resemblance to the ones from the previous game, though with a smaller form factor. Unlike the previous games, they are much more common, now appearing in fourteen courses. They are mainly used to help the player traverse across long jumps, such as the ones in Ribbon Road.
Dash Panels in Double Dash!! now appear as rainbow-colored, rectangular panels. Dash Panels are now more powerful as well, providing nearly the same speed boost as a Mushroom.
Dash Panels sport a design similar to the ones in Double Dash!!, being rainbow-colored panels with scrolling, translucent white arrows. However, the colors are much more vibrant. Some courses from older games keep their original designs, such as Bowser Castle 2.
Dash Panels have a similar design as the previous two games, though the color palette they cycle through is much smaller, with their colours being red > orange > yellow, then back to red. In addition to the new design, players can trick off certain Dash Panels to gain a speed boost. Vertical dash panels were also added, which allowed characters to perform halfpipe tricks to gain a speed boost. These dash panels are blue with white arrowheads.
The Dash Panel in the returning course DK's Jungle Parkway now has the properties of a cannon, making it impossible to fumble the big jump over the river.
In addition to the regular Dash Panels, a new variant, Glide Ramps, were added. These ramps did not boost speed, but rather activated the character's selected glider. Rings were also added to complement the Glide Ramps, which can function as an air-based Dash Panel when the player glides through them.
Dash Panels now have an orange look, with a conveyor-esque look to them.
Dash Panels now have pixelated animations, in resemblance to Super Mario 3D World. Dash Panels, Glide Ramps, and Rings reappear in these games, along with a new variant: Antigravity Panels. These denote the start of anti-gravity sections, and end automatically.
On certain tracks, Dash Panels may deactivate under certain conditions:
- Cloudtop Cruise: The Dash Panels switch off when struck by lightning
- Bowser's Castle: The Dash Panels switch off when in contact with the Bowser Monument's fist
- Rainbow Road: The Dash Panels switch on and off when the conveyor belts change direction
- Hyrule Circuit: The Dash Panels will be inactive if not all the diamonds on the Spin Boost pillars are lit up.
- Super Bell Subway: They deactivate when a train drives over them.
- They are the most common panel type to appear in the series.