I love that moment when a puzzle clicks. The revealer reveals itself, and title suddenly makes perfect sense. I had that today, and aside from a touch of P.T.S.D. from Puzzle Four of this year's A.C.P.T., I very much enjoyed this one.
For the themers, if we want the clues to work, we need to "drive around" the unclued, circled, automobiles by moving left, into the PASSINGLANE, and then back. The answers with the cars still make sense, but they are unclued. As in "23A: Trying to show no signs of life." The clued answer is PLAYING/DEA/D, and the unclued answer is PLAYING(CAR)D.
Obviously, when "passing," one must use some of the letters from the answer above, and it's never just using a word from a two-word phrase, it's letters out of the middle, or from two consecutive words. Very nicely done.
The fill was fun, too, with strong entries like FIASCO (5A: Total mess), SPOILER (36A: "Darth Vader is Luke's father," e.g.), ZEROSUM (67D: Like a game with equal winners and losers), and GETLIT (116A: Go on a drinking spree, in slang).
LACUNAR (55A: Relating to gaps) begs a bit of reviewer lenience, as does TRUTHSERA (74A: Confession inducers), and WIVE (71A: Take as a bride) is borderline at best, but there was a lot to encourage generosity. COLDDAY (26A: Metaphorical time in hell) got a chuckle, as did STAGEDOOR (24A: Show out?). And I took ICANSEETHAT (113A: "Yeah, it makes sense") as a comment on the revealer, which sits just above it. Furthermore, EMETIC always reminds me of the Monty Python sketch that introduced me to that word: "Australian Table Wines."("... 'Chateau Chunder,' which is an appellation contrôllée specifically grown for those keen on regurgitation - a fine wine which really opens up the sluices at both ends. Real EMETIC fans will also go for a 'Hobart Muddy,'...")
Overall, I liked the tone of this one, and I liked the theme. Thumbs up.
p.s. I really should have written this review during the Spain/Russia match. That was a snoozer, but this Denmark/Croatia match is non-stop action!