Shortly after WWT’s new partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) was announced, several of us joined Bubba and the team for a race in Kansas City to observe them in action. We asked a lot of questions and were able to learn about their typical workflow before and during a race. It’s a complicated process with many critical decisions made under high-pressure conditions – and thrilling to witness in person!
About a week later, members of our analytics, engineering and software development teams flew to RPM’s headquarters near Charlotte, NC, to meet with some of RPM’s crew and engineers. Just like any other complex technology project, we need to understand our customer, and the visit was invaluable to learn from them what their biggest needs were from a data perspective.
Plans for the partnership
Our first step is to take simple, close-to-real-time information about drivers during a race and create a dashboard that organizes the data in a more usable format for RPM. This information includes the drivers’ position in the race, time of last lap and fastest lap so far. This is a live feed that NASCAR provides that can be tapped into at any time, including during practice sessions.
It takes some expertise to then take this data and derive some useful insights. To allow our team to work with it more effectively, we’ll stream it into our Advanced Technology Center and host the data there for analysis.
We’re also able to process this data very quickly. WWT’s data engineers are experienced with analyzing and displaying data in near-real time. Race conditions change every lap, so we need to be fast.
Crews are in need of options to optimize race strategies during a race event. It’s hugely important for winning a race. Right now, RPM is doing this with spreadsheets and manually tracking variables. As we continue to work with RPM, we want to take all available data sources and create a more predictive tool to help with these decisions, like refueling, tire changes and how to react to what other competitors are doing.
NASCAR provides every race team access to the same data. It’s up to the teams to do something with it. I am excited about our ability to provide the RPM crew valuable insights they can use to make split-second decisions during a race and help steer Bubba into the winner’s circle. As Bubba says in this video “An inch makes a huge difference in this sport.”