Congrats on your first race! @drjones - I'd recommend a road race for your first ever race - they're generally less sketchy, and if the parcours is at all selective (eg, hills) things get strung out quickly.
@jeffr - don't 'wait' for the pack. If you get a gap, try and hold it for a while, then try not to lose position when they catch you. As for being at the front but not doing work, personally I hate this tactic and think it's responsible for lots of crashes. Everybody tries to be at the front but not on it, which is sketchy. For crits, the faster it is the safer, so I always try to string things out or at the very least pull through to keep the speed high.
Of course, I'm not a true sprinter, so I'm usually going *off* the front on an attack, seeing how long I can stay away and let my sprinter sit in. Or I'm trying to bridge to an attack someone else launched. Or, on rare occasions, I'm chasing down a threatening break or disrupting a chase if I have a man in a break (these are 'negative' tactics and I'm not a big fan of them, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
) Personally, I try not to be in the first ten guys unless I have a purpose up there.
As for your license question, no need to join a club. Get yourself a license, then you'll feel obligated to race regularly to make it worth your $65. Go to the races, watch who works well as a team, make some friends (I *always* talk to at least one new person every race I do - makes it much more fun and you'll never know when it'll come in handy in a race.) Then find a team that's a good match and has riders you can learn from, eg higher Cat racers.
If you want to read up on tactics, check out http://www.roadbikerider.com/stc_page.htm
for Arnie Baker's Strategy & tactics eBook. Baker definitely knows what he is talking about, and it's only strategy stuff, no training, unlike the Friel.
Don't forget to have fun! And don't let racing get in the way of your training. Racing is loads more fun when you have the fitness to win.