In France’s Camargue, Bulls Are A Passion And A Way Of Life

French raseteur Sabri Allouani flees from a bull during a bullfight in Vendargues, southeastern France, in 2006.

The stunning ecosystem is home to pink flamingos, rice paddies and salt, which has been harvested here since the Middle Ages. But the Camargue’s most stunning icons are its white horses and black, long-horned bulls that roam free over much of the 360-square-mile area. Gardiens, or cowboys, Renaud Vinuesa (on horseback, left) and Olivier Terroux (on horseback, right) are out in the Camargue region of southern France for a branding, or la ferrade, with their tridents. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR Gardiens, or cowboys, Renaud Vinuesa (on horseback, left) and Olivier Terroux (on horseback, right) are out in the Camargue region of southern France for a branding, or la ferrade, with their tridents. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR Ranch hand Olivier Terroux says horse, bull and man are all linked in the Camargue. “The Camargue horses, which are the last ridden work horse bred in France, are our link with the bulls,” says Terroux. “They help us manage the herds. But for the horses it’s not work, it’s like a game. It’s instinct. They’re like sheep dogs.” The bulls in the Camargue are raised for fighting in the hundreds of arenas throughout the towns and villages in this region of France. Bound For The Fighting Ring, But Not Death Ranch owner Renaud Vinuesa has 60 horses and 160 bulls. He says Spanish bulls and Camargue bulls are the last two breeds of fighting bulls in Europe. Raising bulls is his passion, Vinuesa says.

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I would like my children to be able to contribute to this country that has so much potential; this country, which has come a long way but still has a long way to go. Keeping them connected to America while living in France is a must. Americans are determined, driven, resolute and able to overcome the most difficult situations. We are dreamers. We create. We invent. We persevere. We work hard, and we know how to have fun. Super bowl? Easter egg hunts? Halloween? Thanksgiving? None of these parts of our culture should be taken for granted, and these are among the things I miss most.

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— Implemented the largest scale research, consumer studies and fan feedback programs that the sport has ever had in efforts to learn what things needed to be changed. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for NASCAR) Even before Brian France succeeded his father, Bill France Jr., as NASCAR Chairman and CEO in 2003, he played a pivotal part in moving the sport forward, particularly in the area of safety. When NASCAR’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt, was killed in the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2001, the younger France oversaw NASCAR’s development of the most far-reaching safety enhancement program in the sport’s history. Included in that were mandating head-and-neck restraint devices for drivers, SAFER barriers (so-called “soft walls” that both absorbed significant more amounts of impact, as well as helped protect drivers), data collection recorders in race cars (which gather information to help further enhance the safety of vehicles), different positioning of drivers behind the wheel to maximize protection and more. When Brian France formally took over for his father, he set in motion a series of changes to both modernize and enhance much of the sport’s policies and procedures. Those included the innovative Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff system and the afore-mentioned Car of Tomorrow/Generation 6 style vehicles. France also pointed to the sanctioning body’s efforts to increase its reach in Canada and, in particular, Mexico. To the latter, France said viewership of NASCAR races among Hispanics tuning into English-language telecasts is up 30 percent this season through the first 25 races. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for NASCAR) Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s Chief Marketing Officer, spoke of the significance of the sanctioning body’s Industry Action Plan drawn up during France’s tenure, a long-range plan that not only sets the direction for the sanctioning body, but which is designed to also make changes on the fly when necessary. “Not surprisingly, it focused on our next-generation fans, focuses on digital and social (media), our drivers’ star power, our fan engagement and that fan experience on race day, and is our product on the race track, the format, is it going to be engaging for the existing fans as we move to the future and will it excite and engage the new fan,” Phelps said. “We spent a lot of time working on it.” To accomplish that basically called for rewriting much of NASCAR’s marketing playbook.