Lakitu is the friendly referee that has appeared in every Mario Kart game since the series inception. He will perform various helpful duties throughout the race and battle; most importantly, he will start the race or battle for you by using his Start Signal's Pre-race Countdown. If the player is driving in the wrong direction, he will appear holding a "Wrong Way" sign until you turn around. After crossing the finish line, he will appear to indicate the lap you're on or wave a checkered flag to indicate the race is over. And, of course, if you fall off the track or go out of bounds, he will use his fishing pole to get you back onto the track. In Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart 7, Lakitu charged the player coins to drop them back onto the track.
If the player taps the A button just as they hit the ground after Lakitu drops them onto the track, they can perform a recovery boost.
Mario Kart 7 is the first time that Lakitu is made available as a racer. As in all other MK games, he resembles a turtle on a cloud. This Lakitu has a red shell opposed to the referee, who has a green shell.