When Elon Musk’s Mum Came On The Croatian Nikola Tesla EV Rally

Paul Bradbury

croatian nikola tesla ev rally
Maye Musk/Twitter

April the 21st, 2024 – He’s controversial, unusual, and downright fascinating. Elon Musk rose from obscurity to household name, and he took Croatia-born inventor Nikola Tesla with him. Here’s the time Maye Musk, Elon’s mum, came on the Croatian Nikola Tesla EV Rally.

The longer I live in this country, the more I realise there are two very different Croatias which are existing side by side. The first is the one which is better known, a land of true beauty and potential, but one drowning in its past, as well as its official need to keep all of the cousins well-fed and employed, whether they do their jobs or not. For there are no consequences. 

The second Croatia is one I have only had fleeting association with until relatively recently, but one which I am finding more and more seductive with each introduction. It is a vibrant Croatia of passion, creativity and vision, a Croatia looking very much in one direction only – the future. For this is the Croatia of the private entrepreneur with a love of the homeland, but not the state. A group of entrepreneurs who are achieving great things in their various fields, not because of the help of government, but in spite of the lack of help from official bodies. A body of truly exceptional individuals with their various visions, who truly give hope for the future of Croatia. 

And because they do their own thing, independent mostly of official bodies, much of what they do goes unreported.  

As I have written before, my favourite event in Croatia is the Nikola Tesla EV Rally. It’s one of the finest examples of luxury tourism promotion in Croatia, showcasing its Nikola Tesla heritage, ecological credentials, natural beauty and high-end tourism. It is a rally which last year had very many Tesla drivers from all over the world on an 8-day rally from Istria to Zagreb via national parks, gorgeous islands and historic Croatian cities. A video of a specially chartered Jadrolinija ferry carrying just electric vehicles (perhaps a world first) was even shared on the Tesla official Facebook page. 

Tina and Igor Kolovrat are the stars behind it all, consistently painting a picture of a brighter future for Croatia’s roads with the expansion of e-mobility. Then she touched on Elon Musk, and more specifically Maye – his mother.

“Among the many international participants from over 30 countries in the first four years of the Croatian Nikola Tesla EV Rally, was Maye Musk, mother of Tesla CEO Elon, who was with us for five days on the rally.”

Wow. Here in the land of the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, home to the world’s fastest electric supercar, was the mum of no less than Mr. Tesla (the modern edition) himself. How cool a story was that? 

I googled, curious to know how much international coverage this had got back in 2015 (a month before the birth of TCN) – ‘maye musk croatia’. Search results – two tweets from the lady herself (whose Twitter handle very coolly introduces herself as the Mother of Invention) and a mention on the rally website. And that is all. She did give a couple of television interviews to the Croatian media, but how well known was Elon Musk in Croatia back then? A great story, and one not yet really told. 

The thing about the Croatian Nikola Tesla EV Rally, I have come to realise, is there is seemingly no end to the positivity or high-quality aspects associated with it, quite apart from the environmental message.

While Croatian genius Mate Rimac did not come on the rally, his remarkable Concept One most certainly did. Driven as it was by the first man to purchase one, Paul Runge, ably assisted by a Rimac engineer in the passenger seat, who was testing, testing, testing, so that he could get the perfect end result for his client.

So good was the project – despite being deprived of anything more than token official support – that it was even included in a 2016 document prepared for the Croatian National Tourist Board  – A Handbook of Per Captia Expenditure and Premium Offers, Prof. dr. sc. Tihomir Vranesevic:

Cross-over partnership of two premium brands. E.V.A. Blue d.o.o. designed and offered a premium tourist product with Nikola Tesla EV Rally linking it to the world-renowned, personal brand of Nikola Tesla.

All conceived in the focus of their consumers, they laid authority, persuasiveness, innovation, engagement, and cult status, inspiring them to continue promoting this project with further word-of-mouth, thus directly generating new demand for the next year.

The whole story perfectly fits the uniquely designed Concept One electric car of Mate Rimac, which enabled the customer to create a vehicle with the help of an engineer in the final stage.

Maye Musk came on the 2015 rally.

And it seems, from her tweet below, that she enjoyed herself so much that returned the following year. As so many of the rally’s participants do.  

The birthplace of Nikola Tesla, the birthplace and workplace of Mate Rimac, Concepts One and Two, the quietest and arguably most beautiful rally in the world, which attracts the likes of Elon Musk’s mum.

Tourism branding anyone?


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