In December 2016 planning permission was granted for 1,800 homes to be built on the current site of the aerodrome. As part of the redevelopment, it is proposed that the track (and associated aerodrome infrastructure such as the runway drag strip) be demolished.
The track is on a former Royal Canadian Air Force airbase constructed during the Second World War and later used by British Aerospace as a manufacturing and test facility. The track's main route, marked by painted lines and simple structures such as stacks of tyres, was designed by test drivers from Lotus. The layout of the track is designed to put the car through various conditions, ranging from provoking understeer to testing brake balance and tyres. The track is approximately 1.75 miles (2.82 km) long. It is considered to be an equaliser for cars since, according to Richard Hammond, both 0–60 miles per hour (0–96.6 km/h) times and top speed are totally meaningless. The track also incorporates a drag strip; although this is not used for timed segments, it does feature in some challenges and other features on the show.
The course starts on the perimeter road outside the Top Gear studio. The first bend is a fast right-left kink named "Crooner Curves." "Willson Bend" is the first proper turn on the track and the first corner usually seen when The Stig is lapping a car. "Chicago", a long right-hand around a tyre wall onto the main runway, was designed by Lotus as a steady state corner, designed to highlight understeer or oversteer of the chassis. Next is "Hammerhead", a left-then-right corner, which again highlights understeer and oversteer. The track comes to a right-hand curve, then the course turns right through the flat-out section called the "Follow Through". After the left hand "Bentley Bend" named after the person who first "discovered" Jeremy Clarkson and former Top Gear presenter, Jon Bentley, but commonly referred to simply as "the tyres", the course comes to "Bacharach Bend", which, after the first series, has been referred to as the "Penultimate Corner" or the "Second-to-last Corner" and is often regarded as one of the most challenging on the course. The final turn before the finish line is "Gambon" in honour of Sir Michael Gambon, who completed the turn on two wheels in episode 8 of Series 1. Prior to this, the corner was known as "Carpenters Corner".
The track is used routinely for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car and Power Laps segments on Top Gear. It also serves myriad roles in other portions of the programme, especially in testing cars and in challenges. When testing cars, they are often driven around the airfield by the presenters. Afterwards, they are taken around the test track by The Stig to set a lap time. Occasionally, drag races and speed tests are held on the runway.