Diving into Gold Country in the World's Quickest Car

2024 rimac nevera
Driving Gold Country in the World's Quickest CarKennett Mohrman
2024 rimac nevera
Kennett Mohrman

“There’s gold in them thar hills!” Everyone has heard the saying, usually used ironically. But there really is gold in these hills. In fact, these are the hills, the canyons around California’s American River, east of Sacramento, where gold was initially discovered, igniting the 1849 gold rush. I’m hurtling down State Route 49, otherwise known as the Golden Chain Highway, on roads first carved out by wagon trains over a century and a half ago. Miners still pan for gold here, and the winding roads have become playgrounds for rare-­hypercar drivers. On any given Sunday, there’s no telling what 200-mph vehicle can be sighted out here.

This story originally appeared in Volume 23 of Road & Track.


There is a savage beauty about these roads. At this time of year, rattlesnakes ooze onto the pavement to warm their blood at dusk and dawn. Just days before this drive, a mountain lion killed a 21-year-old man not far from here. The canyons usually echo with booming internal-­combustion exhaust notes—but not today. The hypercar I’m driving barely makes a sound.

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Climb in and summon the Nevera Time Attack’s 1888 hp.Kennett Mohrman

The all-electric Rimac Nevera Time Attack is, depending on how you define the term, the quickest production car in the world. Rimac will make only 12 of them. This one was the first built and is the only one that exists in the Western Hemisphere. The speed comes on torrentially and feels limitless—zero to 60 mph in 1.7 seconds, quarter-mile in 8.3 seconds, top speed of 256 mph. I won’t hit those numbers on these roads bordered by cliff ledges that drop into deadly oblivion.

I’m sharing the driving with the vehicle’s owner, Jeff Miller. The car is electronically tuned to his customized Mode 1, which sends 100 percent of available power to both axles—totaling 1888 hp—while tightening up the steering. The story of how Miller came to own the only Time Attack in North America might surprise you.

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The Foresthill Bridge is California’s tallest—and almost certainly its fastest.Kennett Mohrman

“I had no interest in buying an electric car,” he explains. “I’m an old-fashioned gearhead.” Miller owns some internal-combustion cars too, including a Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport, a McLaren Artura GT4 track car that he keeps at the Thermal Club raceway, and a G-wagen for grocery runs. For the beginning of our drive today, Miller’s son is behind us in a Skittles-orange McLaren Elva, while his daughter trails in a gray and burgundy carbon-­fiber McLaren 765LT. Miller exudes the confidence of an unrelenting IT entrepreneur who is now enjoying the fruits of his success.

In November 2022, a Beverly Hills dealership approached Miller about test-driving a Nevera. The Time Attack edition did not yet exist, even in the minds of company engineers. “I sat through the presentation, drove the car, and decided to order one right there,” Miller says. What grabbed him was not just the look and feel of this EV. It was the extraordinary story of the car’s inventor, Mate Rimac, the 36-year-old Croatian wunderkind who is almost certainly the most exciting young genius working in the business today.

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This is where the gold rush started more than 150 years ago.Kennett Mohrman

The company told Miller he’d have to wait two years for his Nevera. And that was when the road ahead took an unexpected turn, one that would land this Time Attack in his garage.

Today we live in a world where cars are not mere vehicles but devices. Nobody knows that better than Mate Rimac, and few, if any, cars can be more defined than the Nevera as the singular vision of one man. Not that he doesn’t have the best and brightest among his company’s 2200 employees, including at his factory in Zagreb, Croatia. While the Nevera—Rimac Automobili’s first fully developed customer car—is a highly complex device, it is also the result of a fairly simple vision.

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Only one Time Attack exists in the Western Hemisphere. We convinced the owner to let us have at it.Kennett Mohrman

“I started a company because I had this idea that electric motors are so incredible,” Rimac told me earlier this year during a meeting in a Los Angeles photo studio. “You can control all four wheels independently. If car guys came together to develop a car around the idea of maximizing the potential of electric powertrains, that is the Nevera. Today I am really proud of that. When you drive the car, you really feel that it is made by car guys. It’s fun to use. It’s extremely power­ful. It’s fast. But it’s also comfortable and has luggage space.”

Rimac looks even younger than his 36 years. He started when he was 19 by converting a 1984 BMW 3-series into an electric race car. When he took it to the track, people laughed and called it “a washing machine.”

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The side mirrors’ long arms resemble those on a LaFerrari.Kennett Mohrman

“In Croatia at the time,” he says, “there were zero electric cars. People had never seen an electric car. This was an electric race car. And it was kicking the asses of combustion-engine cars.”

From there, Rimac sought out seed money and developed his first all-electric hypercar from the ground up, the Concept One, widely considered in 2011 to be the fastest electric car in the world. He founded Rimac Automobili in 2009 and debuted the Nevera in June 2021. Today the company has built about 40 Neveras out of a planned 150-car run. Rimac Technology is developing electric-­powertrain tech for Porsche, Hyundai, Aston Martin, and BMW. And now a parent company called Bugatti Rimac includes both Rimac Automobili and Bugatti Automobiles. Mate Rimac has become Bugatti’s CEO. He is rumored to be battery-­powered himself, requiring only a few minutes each night to charge fully.

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The old post office in Auburn, a town now known more for breweries than for gold panning.Kennett Mohrman

To gain buzz for the Nevera, Rimac set out to make news. “In 2023,” he says, “we broke 27 world records.” One of the test drivers, whom Rimac describes as “a total maniac,” set a record of 275 km/h (171 mph)—in reverse. “People ask me: What’s the purpose of doing 275 km/h in reverse? Well, we just try things out. We push limits, even if they’re a little silly sometimes.”

2024 rimac nevera
Kennett Mohrman

One Nevera record of those 27 stands out: a 7:05.298-minute lap at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the fastest ever for an EV by some 20 seconds. In honor of a year of breaking records, the company decided to put out a commemorative-
edition Nevera called the Time Attack—basically, a Nevera with a livery inspired by the Nordschleife test ride and also a direct homage to the electric BMW race car that Rimac the man built years ago. A few months before the car was to be unveiled at the Quail during Monterey Car Week, Miller got a call about this new special­-edition car. Only one existed thus far, and only 11 more would be built. Did he want to buy this Time Attack in lieu of the Nevera he had already ordered? If so, he could show up at the Quail and pretty much drive the thing home.

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Lest you forget the theme of this issue.Kennett Mohrman

“I’m a big believer in buying limited-edition cars,” Miller says. He is also, apparently, a big believer in letting friends and at least one particular car journalist drive them.

Few spots can bring out a lust for danger the way the Foresthill Bridge does at the mouth of the Golden Chain Highway. This bridge spans the American River’s North Fork and is the highest in California. You might have seen Vin Diesel drive a stolen Corvette across it before jumping from the car and parachuting off the bridge in the action film XXX. It’s long, straight, and impossible to police.

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Trailing the Rimac is the owner’s son in a McLaren Elva.Kennett Mohrman

By the time Miller and I reach the bridge, we’ve spent much of the day chasing blue sky, and the weather has moved from golden sun to boiling squall. Appropriate, given that “nevera” is the word given to the sudden storms that sometimes roll in from the Adriatic Sea (it’s worth noting that it also translates to “infidelity” in Croatian). Miller has put a bit over 1000 miles on his Time Attack since taking owner­ship in August, and this is the first time he’s turned on the windshield wipers. The car comes with his tire of choice: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, 275/35R-20 up front and 315/35R-20 in the back. The rubber inspires full confidence in fast sweeping bends in pounding rain. Now the clouds have begun to clear, just in time to hit the Foresthill Bridge for some straight-line speed.

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The Time Attack’s livery is inspired by the Rimac Nevera that set 27 speed records in 2023.Kennett Mohrman

Each of the Nevera’s wheels has its own motor. A knob to the right of the steering wheel controls the driving modes, and each setting produces a digital readout of how much electric mojo gets sent to each axle. The driver can dial in Sport mode (which allows the front and rear motors to use 70 percent of their available max power), Drift mode (100 percent of the rear motors’ available power and zero up front), or, for best economy, Range mode (100 percent up front and 30 percent of the potential maximum power in back). You can also customize your own Mode 1 and Mode 2.

Beware of bears, rattlers, and mountain lions. Seriously.Kennett Mohrman

When you shift the mode, the range readout changes as well. When I dial in Range mode, the car tells me it can motor another 81 miles (after our full day of driving). But in Sport, range drops to 58 miles. Fully charged, the 120-kWh battery pack can supply 300 miles in the most economical mode. But economy is not the goal today.

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Roads carved out by gold-rush wagon trains now beckon hypercar owners. Kennett Mohrman

On the bridge, with full electric power engaged, the Time Attack shoots forward like a bullet from a gun barrel. It makes Tesla’s Ludicrous mode feel only mildly neurotic in comparison. Six-piston calipers squeeze big carbon-ceramic discs on all four corners to provide searing stopping power. The Nevera Time Attack should come with a licensed chiropractor to fix your neck at the end of the day.

To build the Nevera, the company developed its own solid-structure carbon monocoque with an integrated structural battery pack. It’s T-shaped and runs behind and between the two seats. If there’s any car that feels comparable in driving dynamics, Miller says, it’s a ­LaFerrari. (He’s owned two.) Everything—from the arching side-mirror arms to the hood venting to the shape of the tub—is reminiscent, he explains.

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This knob shows the percentage of power delivery from the electric motors to each axle, according to your driving mode.Kennett Mohrman

Sitting in the passenger’s seat while Miller drives, I have the digital speedometer and the lateral and longitudinal g-force gauges front and center. I take a moment to remark on just how comfortable the cabin is. You have plenty of greenhouse to view the surroundings. The seating position is less supine than in other hypercars. A touchscreen mounted low on the center stack controls mirror, seat, and other adjustments quickly and easily. There are no cupholders, but still—this nearly $2.5 million hypercar is set up to feel like a comfortable daily driver.

In a sense, the Time Attack represents the pinnacle of the zero-emission all-electric green rush that has swept the industry. What better color for it to be than Squadron Black with Lightning Green accents? What better place to put it to the test than “them thar hills” in Gold Country? There’s gold in them thar hills all right, and we are sitting in it.

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