For the OP, you don't need a cage, track pads or even track rubber if you're starting out. Just go out and have a great time. If you feel intimidated, the BMWCCA is an awesome way to start out on the track. REALLY safe. The more advanced drivers don't like it (but they usually don't give the club enough time to evaluate them to put them in the right class), but it's perfect for beginners.
If you like autocross, you should LOVE tracking.
Let me get this straight... You are swapping out parts designed by some of the top engineers in the world because some guys sponsored by a company told you it's "better??" But when you ask the same guy about tracking, "oh no, I have a kid now" or "I just detailed my car." or "i just got new tires."