The firm's clients include Geico, Safeway, Aetna, Dell, DirecTV, American Express and Caesars Entertainment, which is building the Baltimore casino.

The private company generated $340 million in revenue last year and expects that to increase 25 percent this year, Williams said.

Last year, Advertising Age named Merkle one of 10 agencies to watch in 2012.

Merkle is among a small number of data-management firms that are expanding their services and beginning to compete with traditional ad agencies by, for example, helping customers plan media buys or decide where to place digital ads, said Kate Kaye, who covers the data industry for Advertising Age.

"They are helping their clients to understand the new world of marketing," Kaye said.

That includes assisting clients with making better marketing use of the data that consumers generate about themselves through their phones and online, she said.

"It's one of the big trends across the business world," Kaye added.

Merkle has used acquisitions to expand its capabilities. Last year, it purchased 5th Finger, a San Francisco developer of mobile apps and mobile marketing. The year before, it acquired Social Amp, a Facebook social media company in New York.

It also recently expanded its presence in China. Merkle has had an office in Shanghai since 2010 and opened a second location in Nanjing this month.

Williams goal is to reach $1 billion in revenue in the next decade.

His more immediate aim is to do well this weekend. The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge he races in features semiprofessional drivers, all racing Porsche 911 GT3 coupes. The series is designed to teach drivers what they need to know to race in the faster American Le Mans Series, which this weekend features actor Patrick Dempsey.

Williams will race Saturday and Sunday. He has been racing in the IMSA GT3 series all year and is in second place behind racing partner Mike Levitas of TPC Racing of Jessup. Williams expects to compete in two 45-minute races this weekend, at times reaching "150-ish" mph on the roads around the Inner Harbor.

"Everyone always wants to know how fast do you go," he said. "My view has always been: Going fast is easy. Stopping and turning, that's where all the problems are."

Williams ran into trouble during a race earlier this year when he hit a guardrail in the rain and broke some ribs.

"Crashing is not something I worry too much about," he said. "It really comes with the territory in racing."

Williams has been working this year with a coach, Randy Pobst, a professional driver from Atlanta.

"David is a smart and analytical driver. He's a thinker," Pobst said. "I see it in his style. He builds his speed gradually, learning the circuit and getting familiar with how the car is handling on the track."

Pobst added: "He's very aggressive on the brakes. He's a late braker."

The pair use the car's technology to fine-tune Williams' performance. Pobst drives the Porsche for a lap, and the data from that is compared with how Williams handles the car.

"I can study that data all night long," Williams said. "It's fantastic."