Dave, being in the same apprehensive position that you are, I have solicited advice from a few experienced veterans of the sport (they are members here, but I will not divulge their names as their heads are already too swollen). The advice I always get is to do a track school - you'll better learn the capabilities of your bike in a much safer environment, and your riding abilities will improve dramatically. You take that knowledge to the street, factor in a sensible approach to the hazards of the road, and your enjoyment of the sport rises to a whole new level.
Like I said, that's the advice I have received, now I just have to put it to good use.
"Ultimately, most problems can be solved by applying a large brick to the correct skull. Difficulties arise when you don't have a brick or can't find the the right skull. The Devil is always in the details."