aren’t missionary trips. In fact, they’re not
teaching or even helping construct buildings.
Manpower, the Tunnells say, is not something
the people in this community need.
“When you go out into a remote village in
Afghanistan, and a woman comes up and takes
your hand or takes Patty’s hand and starts
speaking Dari, we have no idea what she’s
saying but she’s got tears rolling down her
face,” Bob says. “Then when the translator can
interrupt her for a second and tell us what she’s
saying, she’s saying, ‘Thank you for coming over
here. You have saved my children’s lives. You’re
the only group that comes over. Lots of people
send us money. But you come and spend time
with us and drink tea with us.’ When something
like that happens, it just melts your heart.”
“But this is not us,” Patty points out of their
volunteer work. “We don’t do things like this.”
While they might not admit it, this is,
indeed, exactly who Patty and Bob Tunnell
are. It’s also the reason why, when they
diverted funding from autocrossing so
they could take trips to Afghanistan, others
helped keep them at the Solo course.
“Roland Graef at H&R Special Springs, Bruce
Foss and Jeff Speer at Hoosier, and Randy
Chase – they’ve been so supportive of everything
we’re doing,” Bob expounds. “Paul and Lynne
Rothney-Kozlak, Paul and Meredith Brown and,
well, I shouldn’t name names because there
are so many people in the SCCA world who
have helped us out with this cause,” says Bob.
Hours after our conversation, Patty’s words
kept flying through my head, her insisting
that their actions were not who they are.
They don’t volunteer, she’d implied, and they
don’t travel halfway around the world to help
those in need. And, you know, she’s partly
right. The SCCA record book says nothing of
that – which is why this is not that story. Truly,
Bob and Patty’s track record is the real tale
to tell. Yes, theirs is an amazing story, and
it’s every bit of who the Tunnells are.