HomeCar CultureCommentaryBlackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies

Blackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies


Kenneth Behring, who founded the Blackhawk community in northern California’s Contra Costa County, where he also opened the Blackhawk Collection Museum, one of the nation’s most respected collector car facilities, died this week at the age of 91. 

Blackhawk Museum, Blackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies, ClassicCars.com Journal
Kenneth Behring

Behring was a major real estate developer in Florida who purchased 4,000 acres near Danville, California, in 1972 for development. He was a native of Illinois who won a football scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, but left school following an injury. He became an automobile salesman, started his own used-car business and later moved to Florida where he founded the community of Tamarac.

In 1988, he and Ken Hoffman purchased the Seattle Seahawks professional football team, which they owned until the late 1990s. In 2000, Behring founded the Wheelchair Foundation, which has donated more than 1 million wheelchairs to people in 144 nations.

In addition to its classic car collection, the museum features the Spirit of the Old West, Art of Africa, Into China, natural history and other major exhibits.

Remember the movie about cars, trains and airplanes?

OK, so the name of the movie was Planes, Trains & Automobiles, a 1987 flick staring Steve Martin and John Candy. Regardless, we mention that movie because of a new discount being offered by Rhode Island’s Newport Car Museum, Newport Helicopter Tours and Rail Explorers. 

Visit one, get a discount card and save money at the others, as much as $10 off a helicopter flight, $5 off the tour of old railway on Aquidneck Island, or $3 off the car museum admission.

Mercedes Museum welcomes 10 millionth visitor

Blackhawk Museum, Blackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies, ClassicCars.com Journal
Clemens Bergmann takes a seat in a historic Mercedes-Benz racing car | Museum photo

Shortly after 10 a.m. on July 2, Clemens Bergmann purchased his admission ticket to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany and was honored as the museum’s 10 millionth visitor. Bergmann, 30, an information designer from Stuttgart, visited the museum with his friend, Jamie Morgan-Ward from Wellington, New Zealand. They received a special guided tour of the museum and got to sit in the museum’s 1955 W 190 R streamliner racing car.

By the way, that’s 10 million visitors since the museum opened in 2006.

Special events this weekend

Blackhawk Museum, Blackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies, ClassicCars.com Journal
Corvette is featured marque at All-America Cruise-In at Owls Head museum | Museum photos

The Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine hosts its All-American Cruise-In July 6-7, “a salute the style and precision of America’s automotive industry with two days of patriotic powerhouses, haulin’ hot rods and everything in between!”

Featured this year will be the Chevrolet Corvette, with Derek Moore, curator of the National Corvette Museum, visiting from Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Also being featured is a display of Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild concept-car models. 

Museum staff will demonstrate cars, motorcycles and aircraft from the collection, including scenic open-cockpit biplane rides.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, will stage a drive-in-movie night July 6 on its Haub Family Field, showing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, hosts “Muscles & Mojo,” a morning car show from 7 to 9 a.m. on July 7. Similar shows will be held the first Sunday of each month. Also that day, the museum offers a free educational clinic for youngsters (including new teen-age drivers) with a dive under the hood, the hows and whys of preventive maintenance and instruction on how to change a flat tire.

Along those lines, the museum’s website, the museum’s website features a series of “Kids & Cars” educational videos on such subjects as “Socket to Me.” and “Bolts to Drive You Nuts.”

The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany hosts its children and families day July 7 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. with 25 special attractions, both inside and outside the building. The event drew 12,000 people in 2018.

The British Motor Museum hosts its seventh annual “BMC & Leyland Show” on July 7, featuring vehicles produced by the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and The Rover Group. Featured will be the 90th anniversary of the BSA front-drive car, the 60th of the Morris Oxford Farina, the 50th of the Austin Maxi, the 30th of the Rover R8 and the 25th of the Rover SK3. The show also celebrates Triumph National Weekend.

Mark your calendar

“The Car. The Future. Me” is the title of an exhibit scheduled to open July 13 at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, UK, to explore “futuristic car design and (to) challenge your idea of how we will interact with the cars for the future,” the museum said.

Buckler’s Hard, the maritime museum affiliated with Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, welcomes the arrival of a tall ship, a full-scale replica of the HMS Pickle, famed from the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as a model boat display on July 13-14. The Pickle will be open for tours.

July 13-14 is a “Hoods Up” weekend at the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island with the engines in more than 75 vehicles exposed for viewing.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia stages a Demo Day event July 13 from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., exercising a 1907 Renault 35/45 Vanderbilt Racer, a 1926 Bugatti Type 35, a 1936 Bugatti Type 57G Tank, a 1936/48 Delahaye 135S/175S and a 1938 Peugeot 402 Darl’Mat racer under the theme, “Bastille Day – La Fete Nationale.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, inducts new members Sergio Marchionne, the late chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify as a driver in the Indianapolis 500; Richard “Dick” Dauch, co-founder of American Axle Manufacturing; and Patrick Ryan, creator of the first auto dealership finance and insurance department, on July 18 in Detroit.

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, will honor NASCAR champion and New England native Joey Logano at a special event July 19.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will feature “Mini Matchup,” an exhibit of classic and contemporary Mini Coopers from July 20 through August 4.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, hosts a Cars & Coffee cruise-in July 20 

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento hosts a special Amphicar event on July 21 with owners of the aquatic vehicles offering rides on the Sacramento River.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia opens its Mini Matchup exhibition on July 20. The showcase runs through August 4.

From the 1960s into the 1990s, the Hale Farm & Village in Cleveland hosted a car show. On July 21, the tradition returns with a car show that will include vehicles from the Crawford Auto-Aviation Collection and those from private collections and other entrants parked among the farm and village’s historic buildings.

The British Motor Museum hosts “the biggest rally of classic Fords in the UK” on July 21. More than 400 classic Ford vehicles, all between 50 and 100 years old, are expected for the 11th annual “Old Ford Rally,” which this year includes the Capri’s 50th anniversary and the Sunbeam Alpine’s 60th birthday celebrations.

Stahls Automotive Museum in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, hosts its annual “Autos for Autism” fundraiser and cruise-in for the Ted Lindsay Foundation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 25. Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars and Detroit Red Wings player Dylan Larkin are scheduled to be special guests at the event.

Starting at 5:45 p.m. on July 27 and running until 8 a.m. the following morning, youngsters ages 10-13 can spend the night at the BMW Museum in Germany. Among the activities scheduled will be moviemaking, with the young visitors shooting their own short films with the help of a stop-motion app, and then they’ll watch their flicks on a big screen while enjoying popcorn and beverages.

The Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Nissan GT-4 and the 30th birthday of the Mazda MX-5 at its Simply Japanese cars how on July 28.

On August 3, the British Motor Museum will be the site of the Classic Mini Mosaic world-record attempt that is expected to draw more than 600 classic Minis. The following day, the museum will be the site of the National Metro & Mini Show.

August 9-11 is VW T Chill Weekend at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England, where VW Transporter owners will be camping out in their vehicles. The weekend includes a cruise to Buckler’s Head and other family-oriented activities.

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, hosts its inaugural “Simply Mercedes” on August 18.

Blackhawk Museum, Blackhawk Museum founder Kenneth Behring dies, ClassicCars.com Journal
Buses Festival set at British museum | Museum photo

The British Motor Museum stages its sixth “Buses Festival” on August 18, with visitors exploring around 100 restored, vintage and modern buses, even riding on routes around the Gaydon area.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, inducts racer Briggs Cunningham, Corvette designer Tom Peters, and Dollie Cole, Corvette enthusiast and widow of former GM president Ed Cole, into its hall of fame on August 30.

“Legends of Speed,” a showcase of nearly two dozen historic racing cars, opens November 2 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected].

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts