Schwedenkreuz (Swedish Cross) is one of the more perilous of the 170 corners on the Nordschleife. It might not look that difficult from the air—just a fairly gradual, thirty-degree left—but its nuances make it out to be quite challenging. It’s slightly off-camber, and even underpowered cars arrive at Schwedenkreuz at a frightening clip. There’s also little runoff area there, and it ends slightly downhill before ending in a tight right called Aremberg. All these factors make it a doozy, and it has claimed plenty of cars—even Schumacher’s F430, reportedly.
There’s also a big jump in the middle of Schwedenkreuz, and some ambitious drivers don’t make the necessary preparations for this undulation. Some cars even get airborne over this mild hump due to the extreme speeds; even a mildly-tuned BMW E30 hits 110 miles an hour before things go awry:
The BMW’s stiff suspension didn’t help matters, but the crucial error was the heavy lateral loading over the bump. Due to his early turn-in, he carries a small amount of steering angle for longer, and leaves the car somewhat unbalanced over the bump. It’s wiser to try and straighten the car before the corner; to steer somewhat more assertively a hair later in the corner, and minimize steering input if and when the car gets light. Easier said than done—especially when the barriers aren’t far from the track’s edge. Occasionally, a big collision with said barriers spits a car into the air, as we see here:
If drivers make it through Schwedenkreuz cleanly, they still need to negotiate the challenging downhill section, which is impregnated with lots of sticky race rubber due to the GT3 racing cars braking there. This means the section is perilously slippery in the wet (as demonstrated by the red 991 GT3 at 0:35 in lead video), and with the dramatic change in incline and the considerable speed, locking the brakes is easy. Even at relatively slow speeds, there’s hardly any grip (3:00 and 3:34 in the lead video). As harrowing as some of these accidents must be, there still are a few hooligans (4:30) who get a kick out of staring Death right in the eye socket. It’s refreshing to know that some people still get off on near-fatal experiences these days.