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A classic car fan who died after crashing with an ambulance during 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 was driving his vintage blue Brescia Bugatti when it collided with an ambulance with blue lights. It happened shortly before 6.30pm near the junction of Barton Road, between Luton and Bedford.

Mr Diffey, a professional classic racing car driver, died at the scene. Four days later, his family paid tribute to a “much loved husband, son, father, brother-in-law and grandfather” who “will forever be in our hearts”.

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

“Simon was a very talented racer and a consistent winner in a variety of cars. He gave meticulous care and preparation to the Bugatti, his Lotus Formula Juniors, the Connaught which he raced for a friend and his Self-built Humbug and Austin 7. Then he drove them to the max, whether in a VSCC trial or in the high-profile races at Goodwood and Europe.

“But more than that, he was a unique case: an extremely generous man who helped a fellow-competitor, friend or stranger without a second thought. It was not only in motorsport but also in business, for his company Merry Printers was the go-to supplier when teams, catering companies, race promoters, clubs and private owners in the automotive world needed something printed.

“Without effort, Simon couldn’t help but be an entertainer, generating outrageous delight wherever he went. With his warm generosity, skill and sportsmanship behind the wheel, it’s no wonder he was the one of the best known and most beloved people in historic motorsport.

“Suddenly it all came to a screeching 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 dash cam footage of the collision is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Ben Heath of the Bedfordshire Collision Investigation Special Unit, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, by calling 101 citing Operation Fortress.

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