In any top-speed shootout, the fastest boat gets the most attention—and rightly so. That distinction went to Maryland Offshore Performance Marine Center’s 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, which laid down a 138.3-mph pass on the three-quarter-mile course last weekend at the second-year Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River in Sparrows Point, Md.
With Christie Ungarten behind the wheel, the 22-foot Lil Mo Apache reached 74.5 mph on the three-quarter-mile Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River course. Photo courtesy/copyright Stephen Victor.
But here’s another noteworthy number: three. That’s how many women competed in the top-speed contest as part of Team Bad Ass Chicks, a Maryland-based trio of women. Christie Ungarten piloted a 1987 model-year Apache called Lil Mo to 74.5 mph. Courtney Mangini ran her 22-foot Baja dubbed Flirtin’ With Disaster to 62.8 mph. Joined by her father, Eric, Ashley Pennypacker ran the 21-foot Blown Budget Scarab to 80.4 mph.
None of those are big numbers by today’s top-speed shootout standards, but to focus on them is to miss the most important number. And that number is three, as in three driven women on one team with the common goal of inspiring other women to get behind the wheel.
“When I was a kid, I grew up powerboating with my dad,” said Christie Ungarten. “So I have speed in my blood.”
About a year ago, Christie married Frank Ungarten, a well-known member of the Maryland performance boating community who owns a 36-foot Apache called Geronimo as well as the 22-footer she’s piloted solo in the last two Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River events. The Ungartens are a blended family with three daughters—ages 14, 12 and six—and a 13-year-old son between them.
(From left) A trio of bad-ass chicks, Courtney Mangini, Ashley Pennypacker and Christie Ungarten made their marks during last weekend’s top-speed contest in Maryland.
Ungarten’s first shootout in 2021 inspired Manzini and Pennypacker—both of whom trained with their fathers on Maryland’s Elk River to prepare—to join her in this year’s competition. The trio stayed in touch and Team Bad Ass Chicks was born. They even made T-shirts.
“I started driving Lil Mo when I met Frank five years ago and he took me to a couple of offshore races, and I caught the bug,” Ungarten said. “Last year, I was the only female in the shootout.
“What better way to get other females to drive than to compete?” she asked. “I have four kids and a full-time job and I am 37 years old and I’ve done it twice. It doesn’t matter what age you are. I am trying to inspire as many females as possible to come out and drive and compete.”
Though she enjoyed the competition, Ungarten wasn’t satisfied with her one pass down the course. She had signed up to do four passes, but deteriorating weather conditions limited her to one with her family cheering her on.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I think I have a little more in me. But all in all, it was really cool.
“Maybe next year we’ll have an even bigger team of chicks,” she added.
That would, of course, be bad ass.
Girl power at Tiki Lee’s.