This page is for any general information about the game that you should keep in mind when racing.
The main goal in each level will rotate among three cards: Mushroom, Flower, and Star. Getting three matching cards yields 2, 3, and 5 lives respectively. If you run at full P-speed and jump at a 45 degree angle you will very likely get a Star card. While lives are helpful, the animation from the fireworks that occurs when you get these extra lives costs you time. To circumvent this, slow down slightly when jumping into a goal to increase your odds of getting a Mushroom or Flower card.
Getting Hit and Death
Whenever you are hit by an enemy, if you are small Mario, you will die. If you are big Mario, you will become small. If you are anything but big Mario or small Mario, you will become big.
Other ways you can die include falling down holes, into lava, getting squished by blocks going off the left side of the screen during autoscrollers, not reaching the end of the level before time runs out (very unlikely) or getting squished when attempting a clip or zip through blocks.
Never ever ever ever ever EVER pause. If you are about to die, let it happen. There is nothing you can do to stop this and pausing will only waste time. Pausing also has some interaction with overworld elements, such as the pipe munchers in world 7.
It's a good idea to be familiar with the Overworld. Depending on the race goal, you want to know your route before you begin. Sometimes during races you might have a brain fart and start going the wrong way. Practice, practice, practice your routes.
Bonus Games, Mushroom Houses, Coin Ships
These are all wastes of time, with the possible exception of the Hammer mushroom house in W6.
There are a bunch of different types of blocks and switches throughout the game:
Bricks: 1x1 block, they bounce small mario when he hits them, but break when hit by big mario, can contain powerups, coins, a vine or a p-switch.
?-Blocks: 1x1 block, can be hit for a powerup, vine, etc.
P-Switch: 1x1 block, activates when stomped and changes bricks and munchers into coins, as well as making coins into bricks.
Vine: 1x? block, used to access sky areas of the game, can be used as a means of platforming, not used often.
White Turtle Brick: 1x1 block, can be held by mario and thrown, despawns after a set time. Used to break bricks and kill enemies.
Note Block and Red Note Block: 1x1 block, makes mario bouncy on contact, white version can store items, while red version sends mario to the sky.
The rest of the blocks have each their own individual uses and properties, but they all follow the same parameters being unbreakable, clipabble and static. Notable examples are the ice block, which changes the way mario behaves when running and changing direction, as they are slidy. Other notable examples are the blue X block which is normally found in a vertical alignment, commonly seen in forts. Pipes could also be counted as blocks, but they have a deeper usage as of transporting mario and housing piranha plants.
Other "blocks" are static hazards such as lava, spikes and quicksand. Lava kills mario instantly while spikes will take mario down a powerup level. It is important to know that certain enemies, such as the Podoboo and the platform boo only appear in these blocks, Podoboos jumping out of lava and platform boos out of white stretch blocks.