I found Bill Boddy’s article on The Mechanics of Winning most interesting. He touched on the origin of the term ‘pits’ going back to when depots were literally pits dug in a long line at the side of the circuit.
This prompted me to turn to that wonderful book Grand Prix Racing 1906-1914 by TASO Mathieson, which explains the origin of the word ‘pits’. When it was decided to hold the 1908 Grand Prix on the same Dieppe circuit as 1907, it was also decided to relocate the Grandstand and ‘replenishment depots’ because of “the excessive price demands, as rental, by owner of the original location”. In 1907 the Grandstand and depots had been side by side on the outside of the circuit. The spectators in the Grandstand would not, therefore, have had a good view of the action when the cars were refuelled and re-tyred. The depots had counters (about three feet high) and roofs.
For 1908 it was decided to place the Grandstand directly behind the depots on the outside of the circuit. This would have meant a poor view of the cars on the circuit and so the depots ‘were sunk five feet below ground level in the form of a long trench, and became known as ‘pits’. The trench was divided off into sections for each entrant.
I am,Yours etc,
Aidan R Haile, Chelmsford, Essex