Quick, Fast, Speedy Info: The Use of Big Data in Professional Racing


When it’s analyzed correctly and applied in a useful way, there’s little that big data can’t do. Take NASCAR and Formula 1, for instance. The teams that make up these two professional racing leagues have fully embraced big data as a way to make their cars and associated operations faster, safer and generally better overall. That safety aspect – protecting drivers on the track – is similar to what we do at Whitepages, analyzing millions of calls to identify and screen out telemarketers, scammers and other illegitimate calls. We’re also using big data to create more enjoyable experiences for the users of our Android Caller ID app and our Whitepages Android and iOS app, just like the pit crews, team managers and engineers do in both NASCAR and F1.

The past, present and future of big data in racing

While big data has only been a distinct concept for a handful of years and has spent even less time in the public consciousness, the processes behind it have been used for much longer. In his article on the evolution of big data in racing sports, Forbes contributor Bernard Marr highlighted the use of telemetry in F1 since the 1980s. With transmitters affixed to the cars providing data in real time, the engineers and other workers in the pits were better able to understand what was happening to both the drivers and the cars while they were out on the track.

While it can be hard to really define big data, this real-time collection of information – info that’s then used to make adjustments during and after a given race – seems to fit the bill. Since F1 started using telemetry in the ’80s, the use of data collection and adjustments based on that info during both practice laps and live races has exploded. The amount of data coming in has increased, too, as Lotus F1 COO Thomas Mayer told Marr that F1 teams aren’t collecting small amounts of data anymore. They’re gathering petabytes worth of info to make a great number of adjustments large and small, from safety improvements to cutting seconds off of lap times.

Big data for the fans

While both F1 and NASCAR use data before, during and after race day to improve performance, the U.S.-based racing association has taken the lead with using big data to connect with fans. NASCAR’s partnership with Hewlett-Packard, centered around the capture and analysis of many different fan-related metrics, has been operating for 3 years. The platform works to make NASCAR’s product, its races and television broadcasts as well as news and social media operations, more interesting and relevant for fans. By analyzing the reactions of viewers through social networks, website visits and many other metrics, the organization can present more engaging race coverage to its fanbase. Big data isn’t just making things safer and faster for racing teams, it’s also used to create a more enjoyable experience for the fans who make the sport run.

by Whitepages

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