Spinning off shows from British television into American programs are all the rage these days. Just ask anyone who watches The Office, American Idol, The Shield or Life on Mars. But the one we’re most excited about, of course, is the U.S. version of Top Gear. A long time coming, the pilot is set to air on the History Channel in about a month. And as the date approaches, details have been trickling in. The latest covers the test track that will be the show’s playground.
Like its original British counterpart, the Top Gear test track has reportedly been converted from an old military air base: in this case the Marine Corp’s former facility at El Toro in Orange County, California – the same location the NBC project was to use.
The track combines north/south and east/west runways from the former air field. Disused airport runways make great circuits, but there’s one downside: no elevation changes, the likes of which make tracks like Spa and Laguna Seca the legends they are. The El Toro configuration ameliorates the situation, however, with a ten-foot drop and subsequent climb through an off-track loop on the right side of the map pictured above, giving it what most runway tracks – like Silverstone and the original Top Gear track in England – don’t have.