The real history of the Top Gear Track
The BBC Top Gear track has been laid out on the main runway of the former WWII RAF and RCAF air base. The perimeter roads used for Gambon and the finish line were laid over the route of original B-Roads that were ripped up when the airfield was constructed in 1941. One cottage, Broadmead, was situated where the TopGear FollowThrough is now, but in 1941 the cottage was lifted in whole and winched half a mile on rollers to the otherside of the airfield.
One other notable feature is the very wide apron alongside the Hammerhead turn at the end of the main runway. This, and a similar feature at the East end of the main runway was used for the unique testing of the first VTOL jump jets – P.1127 Kestrel and the Harrier. These aprons have tethering pads – grids set into the tarmac with underground vent areas upon which the Harrier was launched vertically whilst tethered to the ground by straps. These tethering pads have been covered now with steel sheeting – but still evident when cars approach hammerhead.
The Top Gear studio is in a hanger immediately to the North of the Finish Straight, although it was originally located in the former BAe paintshop hanger.