The Hot Rod takes the appearance of a yellow car engine with three gray, flaming exhaust pipes on each side, a round three-segment meter gauge on the back, and two more exhaust pipes protruding from the rear.
The Hot Rod can be obtained from the different Capsules on the race tracks or by winning it from a Bonus Chance. Once activated (by pressing the Weapon button), it appears on the back of the racer's cart and boosts its speed beyond that of the "Boost" Pickup item, with the boost being multiplied per level indicated via the arrow-gauge on its back. By pressing the Weapon button again, the player can detonate the Hot Rod, creating an explosion of flames over a large area which will damage and slow down nearby opponents, although it will cease the speed boost. Usually, when a racer wields a Hot Rod, a red circle appears above said racer to notify the opponents. Note that while the Hot Rod is in use, the player cannot use other Pickup items. If the player hits a racer with the Hot Rod successfully, they will be rewarded with points.
The Hot Rod has one drawback: the longer the Hot Rod is active, the more the aforementioned gauge on its back will rise; with the white portion being a Level 1 boost, yellow being Level 2 and red being Level 3. Even though the aforementioned boost function is affected by this which in turn can easily increase the user's overall speed, the Hot Rod itself will blow up on its own not long after if left alone at the highest level, causing the player to lose momentum temporarily.
The Hot Rod is one of the few Pickup items that cannot be collected or multiplied via the Super Pickup.