When Matthew T. Grimm joined his cousin's racing team in the summer of 2004, it was his first experience working with the high-performance stock cars that were the backbone of the American Speed Association.
"He always wanted to be there to help people _ that was always his goal," Bryan Reffner, a cousin and driver. "And he wanted to do something but would push himself to see if he could do it better."
Grimm, 21, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., was killed Jan. 15 by a roadside bomb in Mosul. A 2004 high school graduate, he was assigned to Fort Bliss.
He played football, wrestled and dabbled in weightlifting in school. Shane Benitz, an assistant wrestling coach, described him as a "powerhouse" wrestler with a muscular frame.
"He was just a great kid, a good athlete, hardworking, everything you want in a member of a high school sports team," Benitz said.
Immediately after high school, Grimm began working for Reffner Motorsports, unloading cars from the previous race and getting them ready for the next.
"He was always ready to take on a new challenge," said Reffner.
He is survived by his parents, Eldon and Jean.