Throughout the series, despite the immense amount of lore given for nearly everything about wipeout, we never understood how weapon pads and boosters worked? Did they provide the ship with a temporary reserve of power to transmute into booster power and weapons to blow our enemies away? So a couple of people at 4chan brainstormed the theory and some finally came to this conclusion: The ships already have them onboard, they simply aren't activated unless under certain circumstance.

>Just had a realization about WipEout boost pads
>They're actually just light pads placed above specifically places short range transmitters in the racing tracks
>When a ship passes over said transmitters, sensors located under the ship detect the signals emitted by them
>When detected by the sensors, these signals make the sensors activate the additional boosters installed in the ships (which can only be activated when the ship's sensors pass over a transmitter and gets the signal to activate them), effectively boosting the vehicle
The theory behind the boostpads and weapon pads is our ships already come equipped with an onboard plasma cannon, minaturized small arms and missles and before the fall of the F9000, super weapons. However they were inactivate unless they drive over the weapon pads, there they sent a transmission to the weapon systems onboard which then the race regulators quickly choose a weapon for the pilot. In the later Series due to the backlash from weapon use they would allow ships to activate their onboard shield recharger in exchange for not using a weapon.

Likewise the boostpads operate under a similar function: when it receives a transmission to activate the secondary engine it would proper the ship at faster speeds when it receives the transmission.

Hopefully this explained one of the many unanswered lore questions that is an important part of the series.