In 1966, Walter Hayes was trying to come up with ideas to promote and sell ‘the shed’ which was the name Ford dealers gave to the rather unwieldy Mark 4 Zephyrs and Zodiacs. He approached Eric to come up with an idea but while Eric was thinking about what could be done with these cars which were very unsuitable for motorsport Jimmy Hill at Castrol suggested that a team of drivers should attempt the seven days and seven nights driving record that had recently been set.
The plan was that five drivers, including Eric and his co-driver Ken Chambers, would drive the car constantly, stopping only for driver changes, for a full week. They estimated that the average speed would have to be over 100mph and it was decided that this record-breaking attempt would take place on the old banked oval circuit at Monza.
The first problem that the drivers had was nothing to do with the car – the circuit was old and was literally coming apart in many places. Unlike today’s Formula One drivers, the team didn’t wait for someone else to mend the track but went out and bought concrete and repaired the surface themselves.
Soon, the record attempt was under way. The team, which included John Beckhart, Michael Bowler and John Maclean, set nine international records in addition to beating the existing record.