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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 is used routinely for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car and Power Laps segments on Top Gear.
Power Laps is a segment of the programme in which The Stig completes a lap around the track in a reviewed car to compare its performance to previous contenders. To be eligible to appear on the Power Lap Times board, a vehicle must be a road-legal production car and must have sufficient ride height to clear a standard speed bump (referred to by the presenters as a sleeping policeman), although occasionally vehicles that cannot appear on the list are still timed. All laps are timed with the car's manufacturer-provided adjustable settings configured for maximum performance — all adjustable suspensions are set at their most efficient, all gear shift maps are at their most aggressive, and driving aids such as traction control are deactivated.
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The track's main route, marked by painted lines and simple structures such as stacks of tyres, was designed by test drivers from Lotus. It also serves myriad roles in other portions of the program, especially in testing cars and in challenges. Whenever a non-qualifying vehicle is raced, the time is compared to the official Power Laps but then removed from the board.
Lap times do not offer complete comparisons between the cars, mainly because wet or otherwise poor weather conditions (see time deductions below) can negatively affect lap times. The track was designed by Lotus Cars as a testing facility for the Colin Chapman run company, with many of its Formula One cars tested there.
The layout of the track is designed to put the car through various conditions, ranging from provoking understeer to testing brake balance and tyres.

Cars acquired during challenges must often post lap times (driven by either one of the presenters or The Stig) around the track against either a target time or a time set by The Stig in another vehicle. It is used to test both cars and drivers seen on the program, mainly in Power Laps and Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. During many challenges, the track is used in more unorthodox fashion — for instance, serving as a makeshift motorway lane during a challenge testing tailgating prowess with vans. 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.

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