A classic car fan who died after a crash with an ambulance on a 999 call has been described as "warm and generous" with a "larger-than-life character".

Simon Diffey, from St Albans, was killed following a collision on the A6 in Bedfordshire on Saturday May 14.

The 57-year-old had been driving his vintage blue Brescia Bugatti when it collided with an ambulance on blue lights. It happened shortly before 6.30pm near the Barton Road junction, between Luton and Bedford.

Mr Diffey, a professional classic race car driver, died at the scene. Four days on, his family have issued a tribute to a "much-loved husband, son, father, brother-in-law and very proud grandfather" who will "forever be in our hearts".

They said: "We are so sorry to have to announce that our beloved Simon, everybody’s friend in historic racing paddocks, the ever-friendly, larger-than-life character who knew everyone and was known by everyone, tragically died on Saturday night in a road traffic collision while driving the much-loved little vintage Brescia Bugatti that he campaigned so well.

"Simon was a very talented racer, and a consistent winner in a variety of cars. He lavished meticulous care and preparation on the Bugatti, his Lotus Formula Juniors, the Connaught that he raced for a friend, and his self-built Humbug and Austin 7. Then he drove them to the maximum, whether in a VSCC trial or in the highest-profile races at Goodwood and in Europe.

"But more than that, he was a one-off: a hugely generous-spirited man who would help out a fellow-competitor, a friend or a stranger without a second thought. This was not only in motorsport but also in business, for his firm Merry Printers was the go-to supplier when teams, restoration firms, race promoters, clubs and private owners in the car world needed anything printed.

"Without effort, Simon could not help being an entertainer, generating outrageous fun wherever he went. With his warm generosity, and his skill and sportsmanship behind the wheel, small wonder that he was one of the best-known and best-loved people in historic motor sport.

"Suddenly all that has come to an abrupt halt, leaving only a gaping hole on the track and in the paddock, and a legion of friends with a burden of regret and sadness."

Anyone with information or dashcam footage about the collision is urged to contact Detective Sergeant Ben Heath, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire special collision investigation unit, by calling 101 quoting Operation Fortress.