The Pre-race Countdown (Also known as Pre-Battle Countdown) is a special feature from the Mario Kart series that involves Lakitu, his Start Signal, and a timer that counts down to the official start of the race/battle.
Depending on which game you're playing, which mode you're using, and which track or arena you're racing or battling on, the sequence changes as the series progressed.
Special Ability for the Player
During that time before the race starts, the player must rev up the engine on the kart or bike and if you time it just right, you can perform a Rocket Start or a Double Dash!! (Again, depending on the game).
The countdown has two sounds to alert the player when they can begin racing or battling in the series. Since its debut in Super Mario Kart, the beep is the most famous sound to signal the start of the race. This is also the same for Battle Mode but since Mario Kart Wii, it is replaced by an air horn. The number of beeps or horns will determine how much time until the green light. When the light turns green, it will trigger the final beep which are higher pitched, signaling the start of the race or battle.
Each game has different beeps, and some are shared:
Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 shares the same sound
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! to Mario Kart 7 shares the same, new sound. This beep is the most common among the series.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart 8 each has unique beeps, but not shared between the two. The beep in 8 is even more different than others. This beep will probably used further in later Mario Kart games.
Starting from Mario Kart Wii the beep is replaced by air horns for starting Battle Mode.
- Super Mario Kart to Mario Kart: Super Circuit: On Your Marks, Get Set... GO!/Ready, Set... GO!
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS: 3, 2, 1... START!
- Mario Kart Wii to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: 3, 2, 1... GO!