FYI - this introduction may contain semi-spoilers. I've never created a puzzle like this before. It's more in the vain of a Thursday-type NYT puzzle for those of you who read this and want a hint. I wasn't sure if I should hint at the theme answers or let people figure it out, but I decided to give a nod by italicizing (* in the online version) the theme answers. With no revealer I kind of thought that was the best way to go but wasn't sure. Still not.
I wrote this many months ago and when I was looking it over prior to posting I noticed what I perceived to be an issue. 37-across was originally MALCOLM and 28-down was RACER. The across works with the theme but the down doesn't, and since it it also directly in the middle I thought that was inelegant. Thankfully I didn't have to destroy the entire grid and was able to make a crossing work. It did compromise the fill a bit but c'est la vie. The puzzle in general was harder to fill with the structure of the theme answers which is why I think there is a bit more awkward fill than normal.