Richmond Coliseum

If you haven’t read Money Ball by Michael Lewis or studied the work of Bill James and his Sabermetrics then at least you’ve heard of the Money Ball film starring Brad Pitt. Bill James crafted a scientific system to evaluate baseball players when for decades if not a century plus, the world of baseball used “the eye test” to determine why one player is better than another. Looking at a strapping, six foot seven inch tall left hander that throws a mean, sinking curveball makes a scout salivate but there is more to the equation than that thus keep that $20,000,000 per year contract in your briefcase for a mere second. On the offensive side of the game of baseball, the key to prolonged success over a 160 plus game season and well into the playoffs is getting on base. Barry Bonds, a well-researched student of Sabermetrics, was known for his allegedly performance enhanced power hitting but what people failed to understand was how “patient” of a slugger that he was. He understood that every time that he could get on base – that the odds if him scoring went up exponentially (especially with no or one outs). The odds of the Giants winning the game was higher too. Even with all of the hype over Bonds being a bad teammate (think: his easy chair in the San Francisco Giants locker room that faced away from his team) Barry was always thinking of how to win. Barry was always looking for an edge. Barry was always crunching the numbers. And in that era, The San Francisco Giants were a very successful team.

Today, no sport avoids big data, especially auto racing be it FI, NASCAR, or even NASCAR DFS. The fact that NASCARs are basically stock cars means that the need for any edge over the field is the difference between success and failure. The most tiny delta in performance can be huge. Computer companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft don’t just sponsor race teams because they are looking to sell million dollar software packages to people who live in double-wide trailers and drink Natural Light all weekend. These sophisticated marketers know that if they can use a mainstream sport as a “proof of concept” that they will show how finding additional efficiencies through computing power is an excellent way to teach the decision makers as well as the people who work on the platforms that numbers matter. Black numbers matter. Red numbers matter. They all matter. Everything that gives an edge matters.

Read more.